Bishop Cristiano Barbosa ordained to the episcopate

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BOSTON -- Maria do Carmo Borro Barbosa always suspected that her son Cristiano would become a priest. When she was pregnant, she consecrated him to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Forty-seven years later, she, her husband Antonio Dias Barbosa, and their other son Alexandre Fabricio Barbosa came all the way from Brazil to see Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley celebrate the episcopal ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Cristiano Barbosa at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Feb. 3. They were joined by an estimated 3,000 people, who packed the cathedral to the point that many had to stand in the back or to the sides of the sanctuary.

Maria Barbosa told The Pilot through a translator that her son's ordination was "a gift from God."

"We feel very happy," Antonio Barbosa said. "It's the grace of God."

Speaking to the assembly after his ordination, Bishop Barbosa thanked his parents for teaching him about the church and the world, and his entire family in Brazil for their "strong Catholic identity that has changed my life."

At 47, Bishop Barbosa is one of the youngest bishops in the U.S. He is also the first bishop of Brazilian descent in the history of the Archdiocese of Boston, and the second in the U.S. The first, Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha of Fall River, was one of over a dozen visiting bishops who attended the ordination.

"This ordination recognizes the non-English-speaking communities of the Archdiocese of Boston," Bishop Barbosa said in his remarks.

He acknowledged the need to serve non-English-speaking communities within the archdiocese, particularly the Portuguese-speaking communities. Brazilians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in Massachusetts, with a population that has increased 30 percent in the last 10 years.

Bishop Barbosa praised the "beautiful tapestry of faith, hope, and love" within the Archdiocese of Boston, representing "generations of immigrants, refugees, and those who were enslaved."

"People from so many different cultures and places," he said, "we are called to be one family, one community of faith in Christ."

He also delivered a message in Spanish to the archdiocese's Spanish-speaking community.

He thanked Pope Francis for "an opportunity to love and serve God," and Cardinal O'Malley for convincing him to stay in Boston after he completed his doctorate in sacred theology at Boston College.

"I am surrounded by brothers," he said.

He recalled the moment he was first called to the priesthood, when he was 14 and at a charismatic Catholic gathering. After the Eucharist, Bishop Barbosa was meditating when one of his friends performed a song about God calling Isaiah to be a prophet: "Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?"

"I will go," Bishop Barbosa recalled saying to himself.

Quoting Pope Francis, Bishop Barbosa emphasized the importance of the church going "into the peripheries" to meet all people, "especially those who have felt abandoned and excluded."

"Offer God to them," he said.

He called on the church to be a beacon of hope and a place for attentive listening.

"We are called to a ministry of unity," he said. "That was Jesus's ardent desire, that all may be one."

He shares that desire, to the point that he made "That all may be one" ("Ut unum sint" in Latin) his motto as a bishop.

"I want to serve and give my life," he said, "and ask for your continued prayers. Thank you."

At the start of Bishop Barbosa's ordination Mass, celebrated by Cardinal O'Malley, dozens of cell phones and GoPros were lifted above the throng to record the opening procession. Through the fog of incense, the Knights of Columbus, knights and dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, the Knights of Peter Claver, over 300 priests, and 150 deacons processed through the center aisle to the ethereal sounds of the cathedral choir and organ. Multiple choirs from the Archdiocese of Boston's ethnic apostolates and singers from the Neocatechumenal Way, also provided music. At the end of the procession, greeted by uproarious applause, was Bishop Barbosa, followed by the auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Boston, the visiting bishops, and Cardinal O'Malley.

After the procession, four men carried a boat-shaped float draped in blue netting, filled with yellow flowers, and topped by a statue of Our Lady of Aparecida, the patroness of Brazil. It was placed beside the altar as the choir sang in Portuguese.

After the Liturgy of the Word, the ordination ceremony began. Bishop Barbosa was presented to Cardinal O'Malley, and the papal mandate appointing Bishop Barbosa, known as the Papal Bull, was read and displayed to all in attendance.

In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley said it was fitting that the ordination was held on Feb. 3, the feast of St. Blaise, because St. Blaise was also a bishop and one of the 14 Holy Helpers.

"Today, Boston is getting a new holy helper," Cardinal O'Malley said.

He compared Bishop Barbosa's responsibilities to St. Peter's "unconditional acceptance as his role of shepherd," giving his life to the love of Christ and the care of his flock. He explained that the apostles were the first bishops, who passed down their office through the laying on of hands. Cardinal O'Malley said that the ordination ceremony is not only "key to our identity as Catholics," but also "the way that Christ's loving plan is continued throughout history."

"Today, in our presence," he said, "Father Cristiano Barbosa will receive the same ordination and share in the apostles' role. Jesus is calling this man to follow him and be a shepherd."

Cardinal O'Malley told Bishop Barbosa to bear all hardships with strength from God, and reminded him that God gave him the powers of love, selflessness, and self-control.

"Today is a second calling," he said. "Like Peter, you are being called to a deeper vocation, to a vocation of love and service. We commend your ministry to the loving care of Mary, Mother of the Divine Shepherd."

After the homily, Bishop Barbosa approached Cardinal O'Malley and made the Promise of the Elect. With both men speaking Portuguese, Cardinal O'Malley asked whether Bishop Barbosa would obey the Catholic Church and be steadfast in his faith and responsibilities. Bishop Barbosa said that he would. Bishop Barbosa then prostrated himself, laying on the floor before the altar in a show of humility. The Litany of the Saints, sung by the assembly, echoed all around him. The saints were asked to pray that God would give his grace to his new bishop.

Cardinal O'Malley then laid his hands on Bishop Barbosa, followed by the auxiliary bishops of Boston and all other visiting bishops. Cardinal O'Malley opened the Book of the Gospels and held it above Bishop Barbosa's head, representing his subservience to the Gospel. Two deacons then held the book over Bishop Barbosa's head while Cardinal O'Malley said the Prayer of Ordination. After that, Bishop Barbosa knelt before Cardinal O'Malley, who anointed his head with Chrism oil while praying in Portuguese.

Then, Cardinal O'Malley presented Bishop Barbosa the same Book of the Gospels that was held above his head, followed by the other symbols of a bishop's office: the ring, the miter, and the crosier or bishop's staff. The new bishop then exchanged the kiss of peace with Cardinal O'Malley and the rest of the bishops.

After the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Bishop Barbosa processed through the cathedral and blessed hundreds of cheering onlookers before delivering his remarks in Portuguese and English. After Mass, Bishop Barbosa's parents came up to the altar for photos with their son. Maria Barbosa smiled and rubbed her son's cheek.