Archbishop Russell's ordination an historic moment for Boston Archdiocese

Archbishop Russell pauses at the ambo of the cathedral before giving his final remarks. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

SOUTH END -- After spending many years serving the Church abroad, Archbishop Paul F. Russell returned to the Archdiocese of Boston to be ordained an archbishop by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, June 3.

Archbishop Russell, who was born in Greenfield, Mass. grew up in Michigan and attended St. John's Seminary in Brighton, was named titular archbishop of Novi and apostolic nuncio (ambassador) to Turkey and Turkmenistan by Pope Francis on March 19.

Prior to his ordination, Archbishop Russell served at the Vatican and at nunciatures in Ethiopia, Turkey, Switzerland, and Nigeria before being named head of the Vatican diplomatic mission in Taiwan in 2008.

His ordination served as a historic moment for the Archdiocese of Boston, as he is the first priest in the archdiocese to be ordained for service as a nuncio in the Holy See's diplomatic service. In addition, he is the first bishop to receive all three of the orders -- deacon, presbyter and bishop -- of the Sacrament of Holy Orders at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Bishops and priests from across the country attended the ordination. In addition, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios was present as a representative of Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

Co-consecrators were Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron, the Archbishop of Detroit, and Archbishop Leo William Cushley, the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland.

The Rite of Ordination began with the presentation of Archbishop Russell to the cardinal and the reading of the mandate from the Holy See, before the cardinal delivered his homily.

"Pope Francis is aware of the many hardships and dangers in your way of life. In addressing the nuncios of the world, the Holy Father describes your life as nomadic, going from one country to another, each with differences and with challenges," Cardinal O'Malley said in his homily, which was largely addressed directly to Archbishop Russell.

"As a nuncio you are to be a pastor. Your role is to encourage: to be a minister of the communion and mercy. Today marks the day of a special vocation, you are called to the episcopate, so as to enhance your ability to make the pastoral love of the good shepherd more visible in your ministry in the service of the Holy Father and the Church," he continued.

In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley spoke of Pope John XXIII, who had served as an apostolic delegate to Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria, and as apostolic nuncio to France before becoming pope.

"We pray that the good Pope John will intercede as you fulfill the same role as an ambassador for Christ and a representative of Pope Francis, bringing his 'tenerezza' and 'vicinanza,' his tenderness and closeness, to the people of Turkey," he said.

He noted that Archbishop Russell chose for his motto "Cor Ad Cor Loquitur," or "Heart Speaks to Heart."

"Let Christ's heart speak to yours, make his sentiments your own, so that you too will be a reflection of Christ's pastoral love. Learn from him who is meek and humble of heart. Be consumed by thirst for souls, and the desire to rescue that lost sheep who has strayed the farthest," Cardinal O'Malley said.

The Rite of Ordination continued following the homily, with Cardinal O'Malley questioning Archbishop Russell on his resolve to uphold the faith and to discharge the duty of service in the Church.

After answering the affirmative to the cardinal's questions, Archbishop Russell lay prostrate in front of the altar as the litany of saints was chanted.

The rite continued with the laying on of hands by Cardinal O'Malley, Boston's auxiliary bishops and visiting archbishops and bishops from other dioceses.

Cardinal O'Malley, aided by two deacons, then placed the open Book of the Gospels over the head of Archbishop Russell and prayed the Prayer of Ordination.

The cardinal then anointed the head of Archbishop Russell before presenting him with the Book of Gospels and commissioning him to evangelize with great patience.

The newly ordained archbishop is given the ring, the miter and the crozier. The ring symbolizes fidelity to the Church, the miter symbolizes an "unfading crown of glory," authority like that of the high priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, and the crozier symbolizes the "shepherding" duty of the bishop to the "flock" of the community.

Afterward, the bishops present welcomed Archbishop Russell into the College of Bishops with the sign of peace, the fraternal kiss.

Before the final blessing, Archbishop Russell spoke to the congregation and thanked his fellow priests for their support.

"I am proud to be a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston. This is a great archdiocese. Although, as God would have it, almost all my priesthood has been serving the Church outside the archdiocese, I am always one with you in your joys and your sorrows," he said.

"I am grateful to the many faithful, selfless, dedicated priests of Boston, who taught me by word and example, as well as to my priest friends from this archdiocese... And I am grateful to priests from Michigan and other places who have been my true brothers," the archbishop continued.

He offered thanks to his fellow bishops, as well as Pope Francis.

"You inspire me by your selfless dedication to the needs of your flock. Sometimes, in very challenging and difficult circumstances, I ask the lord to give me the grace to imitate your example," Archbishop Russell said of the bishops.

"I am grateful to Pope Francis for his trust and confidence in me. My appointment to Turkey and Turkmenistan is a concrete sign of his respect and esteem for those two countries and peoples... It will be an honor and privilege to do whatever possible to assist Pope Francis in his concern for the local church and the people of Turkey and Turkmenistan," he continued.

Following the ordination, Paul Loverne of New Hampshire, a friend of Archbishop Russell, told The Pilot he has known the archbishop for years.

"He was a priest at my grandmother's funeral 25 years ago, and we've been connected ever since... He's been a friend of the family."

He said the ordination was "spectacular," and called it a "once in a lifetime" event.

It was "nice to see (Metropolitan Methodios) sharing in the celebration," he said, noting it was "definitely a global event."

Archbishop Russell's first cousin, Tim Fitzpatrick of Michigan, attended the ordination with his family, and said it was Archbishop Russell's mother's 89th birthday that day, as well as the birthday of another one of the archbishop's cousins.

He told The Pilot he and his family enjoyed the ceremony.

"The ceremony, I've never seen anything like it before. It's a beautiful facility, it's a beautiful ceremony, and we really and truly enjoyed it," he said.

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