The Episcopal Ordination of
Bishop-Elect Mark O’Connell, JCD and Bishop-Elect Robert P. Reed
The Feast of St. Bartholomew | Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston
Ordination to the episcopate, priesthood, or diaconate is an event of great consequence in the life of the Catholic Church. The Sacrament of Holy Orders, which, like the other six Sacraments, was instituted directly by Jesus Christ, is paramount for the preaching of the Holy Gospel and the celebration of the Sacraments – indeed, for the continuation of the Church herself.
Before a man can be lawfully ordained to this office, he must first be nominated by the apostolic nuncio followed by approval of the Pope. The principal consecrator, Cardinal Sean O’Malley will be assisted by two other bishops as co-consecrators. However, as the Rite of Ordination of a bishop asserts, “It is fitting for all the bishops present together with the principal consecrator to ordain the bishop-elect.”
After the proclamation of the Gospel by one of the deacons, the actual ordination of a bishop begins. The hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus is chanted. Those to be ordained to the office of bishop are presented to the principal consecrator. Then, the apostolic letter or mandate is read aloud. This letter testifies to the desire on the part of the Vicar of Christ that a man receive the third and final “degree” of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, namely, the episcopate.
After the homily, important questions are asked of the bishops-elect by the principal consecrator, to ascertain whether the candidate is prepared to discharge this sacred duty until the end of his life, remaining “faithful and constant” in proclaiming the Holy Gospel, maintaining without change the “deposit of faith” that the apostles have passed along down through the ages, to “build up the Church as the Body of Christ,” and to “remain united to it within the Order of Bishops under the authority of the successor of the Apostle Peter,” praying unceasingly for the People of God.
The Litany of the Saints is sung. The principal consecrator and the other bishops lay hands upon the heads of the bishops-elect. Then, the open Book of the Gospels is placed over the heads of the bishops-elect, while the principal consecrator offers the Prayer of Consecration, in part with all the consecrating bishops.
After the Prayer of Consecration, the Book of the Gospels is removed from above the head of the new bishops. The principal consecrator anoints the head of each new bishop with the Sacred Chrism, hands him the Book of the Gospels, places the ring on his finger, the miter on his head, and gives him the crosier or pastoral staff. When giving the new bishop the crosier, the principal consecrator says: “Take this staff as a sign of your pastoral office: Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.”
The new bishops then take the first places among the concelebrating bishops. Before the Mass continues, the Rite of Ordination ends with the kiss of peace from the principal consecrator and all the other bishops who are present.
The Rite of Ordination of a Bishop illustrates the dignity of the office, the pastoral responsibility to which the bishop is called and the mercy of God Who continues to care for His Church by providing shepherds after the heart of His Son, Jesus.
adapted from an article by Msgr. Charles Mangan, a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls