New leader for U.S. Melkites installed

The Most Reverend Cyril Salim Bustros became the fourth Eparch of Newton at his solemn enthronement (installation) at the Cathedral of the Annunciation on Aug. 18. The worldwide leader of the Melkite Church, His Beatitude Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem was the installing prelate. Archbishop Bustros succeeds the much beloved Bishop John Elya as leader of the Melkite Catholic community. His diocese covers all 50 states.

The Melkite community gathered in good number for the happy day. They were joined by bishops and archbishops from other Eastern Catholic Churches and by other Catholic bishops of New England. The Holy Father’s nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo was also present for the ceremony and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy (Holy Mass) and read the decree permitting the installation to take place.

The ceremony is quite different from the installation of a western Catholic bishop. The procession enters the church to the chanting of hymns and prayers. The clergy enters the sanctuary area and venerates with bows and prayers the icons of Jesus and His Mother.

Next the eparch-designate was vested in his vestments, each vestment accompanied by a prayer and presentation by a member of the clergy. When the vesting was completed Archbishop Montavlo read the papal decree. Archbishop Bustros was then lead to the patriarch to receive his pastoral staff.

Presenting the staff the patriarch said, “Receive this shepherd’s staff to lead this flock of Christ committed to your care. Let it be in your hands a safeguard and a support to those who are obedient. As for those who are refractory or hesitant, let it be a sign of warning and an instrument of redress.”

The patriarch preached an introductory homily in English. He encouraged the American Melkite community to maintain their ties with one another and with their bishop and to seek out other Melkites across the nation who may have loosened their ties with the Melkite community because of distance or geography. He praised the generosity and love that Bishop John Elya had shown during his more than 50 years of service as a priest, an auxiliary bishop and then as eparch.

Introducing the new eparch His Beatitude noted Archbishop Bustros’ wide pastoral experience as seminary educator, ecumenical leader, teacher and pastor and more recently as Archbishop of Baalbek in Lebanon. In that archdiocese he made enormous progress in building up the morale and spiritual life of the people and clergy as well as expanding the physical structure of the archdiocese.

The ceremony continued with the celebration of Divine Liturgy concelebrated by the assembled clergy and with the active participation of the Melkite assembly.

The new eparch was finally seated on the eparchial throne and imparted his first solemn blessing to all in the cathedral.

The archbishop’s coat of arms bears his motto “ Let you light shine” from the Gospel of Matthew 5:16 signifying his intention to let Christ’s light shine in his life and in the life of the Melkite community of the United States.

If Melkites and others want to know something about the energy and determination of this new bishop, a hint may be provided by his first purchase in the U.S. — sweat pants and sneakers, because his luggage was lost in transport.