Springfield Diocese installs Bishop William Byrne with ancient ritual designed to follow pandemic rules
SPRINGFIELD – The most Rev. William D. Byrne, a pastor of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, was installed Monday afternoon as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
During the afternoon liturgy at St. Michael the Archangel’s Cathedral, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston consecrated Byrne, 56, as bishop in an ancient ritual that included the consent of the participants upon his installation, questioned the bishop-elect about his commitment to what is considered the senior leadership of the Church, and called on the Holy Spirit to guide him in his ministry.
O’Malley was assisted in the ordination ceremony with his rituals which follow the two canon law and tradition established by the bishop James F. Checchio of the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ, and Most. Rev. Austin Anthony Vetter, Bishop of Helena, Montana, both described as longtime friends of Byrne after studying together in Rome. Byrne is also a graduate of Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross.
O’Malley escorted Byrne, after his ordination into the episcopate, or realm of bishops, to the cathedral chair, an act that represents his installation as bishop of a diocese with 164,799 Catholics, 79 parishes and seven missions in the four western counties.
Public health regulations relating to the coronavirus pandemic limited the number of people in attendance to around 190 people for the Ordination and Episcopal Installation Mass which would normally have filled the cathedral with up to 1,200 participants. Among the guests on the benches, who wore masks and sat on the social sidelines, were civic dignitaries – including Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood and U.S. Representative Richard E Neal – as well as religious representatives, such as Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York; retired Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington DC; and Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC
Byrne’s mother, Mary Largent Byrne, 97, was among family and friends in attendance, along with Sister Deirdre “Dede” Mary Byrne, his sister, a retired US Army surgeon and member of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart. Susan Byrne-Rust, one of Byrne’s sisters, gave the first reading from Isaiah 61: 1-3.
Other participants in the ceremony included Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester.
He introduced Byrne, who was ordained a priest in 1994 by the late Cardinal of Washington James A. Hickey, to O’Malley, who noted in his homily that he was also ordained by Hickey as a candidate for bishop.
Bishops are considered in the Catholic Church as successors to the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, whose importance O’Malley stressed in his homily.
McManus was apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Springfield after former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, who was among the attendees, was installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on August 25. Rozanski’s predecessor, Bishop Emeritus of Springfield Timothy A. McDonnell, was also in attendance.
In his capacity as administrator, McManus told O’Malley that “The Church of Springfield asks you to ordain this priest, William D. Byrne, in the responsibility of the Episcopate,Claiming that there was a mandate from Rome to do so.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, The French-born papal diplomat in the United States then read Pope Francis’ letter appointing Byrne Bishop of Springfield. He noted in a light moment in his own introductory comments both Byrne’s ministry as a priest, as well as his presence as commentator on social networks.
Applause from the congregation, seen as consent from Byrne, known for his sense of humor, followed as he walked up the aisle of the cathedral in an informal moment showing the warrant read by Peter.
O’Malley, who spoke in part of the ultimate judgment of his action in a Christ-centered life regarding love and the sacrifice that follows in his homily, continued the rite of ordination after his homily. He asked Byrne about his commitment to what is known as the “Promise of the Elect.”
“The ancient rule of the holy fathers directs that an elected bishop should be questioned in the presence of the people about their determination to uphold the faith and discharge their duty,” said O’Malley. “And therefore, dear brother, do you resolve, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to fulfill until death the office entrusted to us by the apostles, which we are going to transmit to you by the laying on of hands?
“Yes,” Byrne said in a series of affirmations to other questions seeking its answer to keep the faith, to build up the Church, to render faithful obedience to the Pope, as well as to guide the holy people of God, to be merciful to them. poor and “perform the office of the high priesthood without reproach.”
This was followed, after an intercessory prayer for divine guidance, by the laying on of hands, part of the ordination rite in which O’Malley and his two co-consecrators placed their hands on Byrne’s head. as symbolic of the descent of the Saint. The spirit and the gift to represent christ.
During the ordination prayer, the gospel took place above Byrne, symbolic of his place as the foundation of the ministry, and the three consecrators prayed in part: “Pour now upon this elect that power which comes from you, the ruling Spirit, whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit whom he gave to the holy apostles, who established the Church in every place as your sanctuary for the glory and the incessant praise of your name.
Her head was also anointed by O’Malley with oil as a sign of authority and of being received into the “higher priesthood of Christ”.
O’Malley introduced Byrne to the symbols of his office which include a ring worn on the right hand to signify a bishop’s loyalty and connection to the church he serves; a headset called a miter with two side bands that hang down from the shoulders; and a pastoral staff or a crook which has been said to represent the divine call to the “shepherd” as being “chosen for the office of bishop”.
He was then led to the cathedral chair where, seated to applause as the 10th Bishop of Springfield, he became the principal celebrant for the remainder of the liturgy which included the celebration of the Eucharist and the distribution of the Communion.
Byrne’s choice of symbolism for his ecclesiastical coat of arms, developed in conjunction with Rev. George E. Stuart, Episcopal Vicar for Canonical Services in the Archdiocese of Washington, shows both personal and religious references and includes the words in Latin, “in spem vivam,” said to be its motto by referring to the “living hope” of the resurrection of Christ.
It is highlighted in the program for his ordination in the episcopate and his installation as diocesan bishop. One of eight siblings of Irish descent, Byrne studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, completing his BA in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, all elements reflected in his coat of arms .
The Boys and Adults Cathedral Choir was unable to attend the ceremony due to the pandemic, but members Ashley Duplessis and Courtney Sylvain, as well as cathedral cantor Michael Cremonini, provided vocal music during mass (Ladislaw Pfeifer is diocesan musical director.)
Among the songs performed was “Veni Creator Spiritus,” a ninth century hymn considered a staple of every episcopal ordination by invoking the presence of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the ordination ceremony. It was sung by Sylvain.
Before the ceremony, Robert M. Hoatson, co-founder and president of Road to recovery, held a press conference outside the cathedral to question the Vatican’s appointment of a priest who served in the Archdiocese of Washington under Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal who was removed from his post last year after the Vatican found him guilty of sexual misconduct. Hoatson also noted Cardinal Wuerl retirement of that archdiocese was spurred on by the release of a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report that named him among church leaders who covered up clergy sexual abuse.
Byrne has never been linked to any of the scandals involving the Archdiocese of Washington DC.
During the McCarrick years from 2000 to 2005, Byrne was chaplain at the Catholic Student Center at the University of Maryland. Under Wuerl, who led the Archdiocese of Washington from 2006 to 2018, Byrne was pastor of Saint-Pierre parish and then pastor of Notre-Dame de la Miséricorde parish in Potomac. Byrne served as Secretary for Pastoral and Social Concerns in the Archdiocese from 2009 to 2015. His service is also a member of the Council of Priests, the Council of Priests’ Staff, and the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese.