Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Joy and Sadness - the ordination


     The excitement on this past Monday afternoon at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg was palpable.   Laity from parishes within the Diocese of Greensburg and friends from the Diocese of Harrisburg joined with other guests, priests from both diocese and beyond as well as Archabbot Douglas Nowicki from Saint Vincent, Archbishop Vigano, the papal Nuncio and bishops from the Pennsylvania diocese gathered to welcome, ordain and install Bishop Edward Charles Malesic as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg.  The initial procession began at 2:00 pm with the entrance procession beginning at 2:30 pm and ending about three hours later.  The Rites of the Church, celebrated within the Eucharist, were a beautiful expression of Faith lived in fullness.

     Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M.Cap of Philadelphia was the main ordaining bishop, and he was joined by Bishop Emeritus Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg and Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg.  As mentioned, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States represented our Holy Father and read for us the letter from the Holy Father calling the Bishop-elect to the episcopal ministry and naming him the fifth Bishop of Greensburg.  Nearly twenty bishops, over two hundred priests, and laity and Religious filled our small Cathedral - upstairs and down.   The setting was grand, the service uplifting (though long), the music tremendous (in his comments the bishop said that he had heard that the choir was good ... and then said to them "And you are GOOD!") and the prayerful joy was contagious.

     Archbishop Chaput gave the homily.  He has an easy style, much like a good teacher.  He used the Church's homily on such and occasion, with his own comments interspersed.  He said that the bishop is "raised" by an act of the Church and of the Holy Spirit to the office of bishop.  This raising is not to set him higher than the rest of us but to be a sign of Christ before us.  He said that Edward Charles Malesic is presented as an example of the love of Jesus ... a crystal clear icon (image) of Christ to his Church.  As an aside, he pointed out that being "raised up" allows you to be open to be "shot down" - making you a target, and encouraged all present, especially the priests who at times can be super critical, to be patient and understanding, supportive and forgiving of our new bishop, who, like us, is not perfect.

     He pointed out that Jesus was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, and that Jesus sent the twelve into the world filled with the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel, to sanctify and govern the Church.  The Apostles chose helpers by the laying on of hands and sent them to help us find salvation and ourselves go forth and proclaim the Good News to the world.  He said that "Jesus chooses Edward to be his sacramental presence in the Church.

     He also mentioned that the title of bishop is one of servant ... with a good understanding coming from the Franciscan tradition that calls their leader a "guardian", caring for and protecting those under their care.  That is what a bishop should be.  He told Bishop Malesic to "love all who God places in your care".

     And in closing he said to him:  "You are a good man.  The Lord calls you to be a holy bishop.  in your weakness you have God's promise of the Holy Spirit.  He will make you strong and will make you clearly the presence of Jesus Christ in our midst.  May God bring to completion the good work he has begun today."

    Following the homily comes a series of questions of the Bishop-elect in regard to his duties, and the promises that he makes.   Then, as the bishop-elect lies prostrate on the floor, the Church prays the Litany of Supplication, invoking the saints of God for the man. 
Immediately follows "the" moment of ordination, when first Archbishop Chaput and then the other bishops present "lay their hands" on the head of the bishop and pray the Prayer of Ordination. 
The bishop's head is then anointed with the Sacred Chrism, used also in Baptism and Confirmation.

     The new bishop is presented with the Book of the Gospels as well as his signs of office: the ring, the miter (the hat) and the crosier (staff).  He is then led to the Cathedra (the chair) and is seated, to the applause of all, thus accepting his installation as our bishop. 
The other bishops present then share a sign of peace, before the liturgy proceeds.

     After Communion, to a hymn of praise , the new Bishop goes through the Church giving his first blessing as a bishop.  Bishop Malesic also went to the choir loft

Photos by Mary Seaman of the Diocesan Communication Office
where many from his parish in York Haven were seated (best seats in the house) and to the lower level where there were many following the celebration.  He gave brief remarks, filled thanksgiving, with teaching, and with humor.  These remarks led to the final blessing and dismissal.

     It was a glorious day, one that will be remembered in this Diocese, and one that gives us hope and confident assurance for the days ahead.  Our Shepherd is one of us, a pastor and fellow journeyer, and will walk with us on the road to salvation.  Together ... Let us Serve the Lord with Gladness.


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