CLEVELAND, OHIO — In a prayerful and splendid ceremony celebrated in his new cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Bishop Richard Lennon became the 10th bishop of Ohio’s largest diocese, May 15.
Although it was raining, warm welcomes and enthusiastic participation of the assembled faithful were the hallmarks inside the large gothic church which serves as the mother church of the northeast Ohio see.
The original plans were for a Mass of installation on May 15. However, because of the overwhelming response to Bishop Lennon’s appointment, two additional ceremonies were added: a solemn vespers on May 14 and a special Mass for the chancery staff on May 1. Both vespers and the Mass were standing room only in the 1,200 seat cathedral.
The principal event of the installation ceremonies was the installation Mass on May 15.
Preparations had been ongoing since the April 4 announcement of Pope Benedict’s appointment of Boston’s vicar general and moderator of the curia as bishop of Cleveland.
Bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful from Cleveland and Boston — and beyond— began assembling for the Mass well before its scheduled 3 p.m. start.
Two cardinals — our own, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley and Baltimore’s William H. Keeler were present in the sanctuary. Among the more than 30 bishops present for the Mass were the metropolitan archbishop, Cincinnati’s Daniel Pilarcyzk, and the recently appointed papal nuncio Pietro Sambi. Among the New England bishops present were: Boston auxiliary Bishop Walter Edyvean, Fall River Bishop George Coleman, Manchester Bishop John McCormick, Portland Bishop Richard Malone, and Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell. Other bishops from Ohio and neighboring states joined more than 500 priests, including some 40 from Boston, concelebrating the Mass.
Cleveland’s corps of more than 200 permanent deacons, another 100 guests from Bos-ton, and faithful from across the Cleveland diocese together with ecumenical guests and civic officials gathered for the almost three-hour-long Mass.
Archbishop Pilarcyzk greeted Bishop Lennon at the door of the cathedral and the procession went to the sanctuary for the presentation of the papal letter appointing Bishop Lennon to Cleveland. Archbishop Sambi welcomed the assembly and reminded all present that the duty of each Christian is to be in the community of faith, “the credentials” of Christ. After the nuncio showed the letter to the diocesan consultors, both archbishops escorted Bishop Lennon to his cathedral-bishop’s chair, where he was seated and presented with his crozier, thus becoming Cleveland’s 10th bishop.
The Liturgy of the Word continued with readings from the Acts of the Apostles and Ephesians, both focusing on the meaning and mission of the Church. A selection from the Gospel of John was proclaimed in chant.
Bishop Lennon’s homily followed his words of thanks to the various individuals and groups present at the Mass. Sustained applause accompanied Bishop Lennon’s thanks to his immediate predecessor, Bishop Anthony Pilla, who has served as diocesan bishop for more than 25 years and was the only native son of the diocese to have been its leader in its more than 150 year history.
In his homily, the new bishop invited the priests, deacons, religious and the lay faithful of his new diocese to embrace him as he embraced them and to continue on the path of holiness.
He cited a few points emphasized during the Easter season in the Acts of the Apostles about the foundational elements of the Church: prayer, outreach to those in need, attention to the teaching of the Apostles and the Mass.
Linking the various themes to the already existing ministries of the diocese, he called on the whole diocese to commit or recommit to participation in the life of the local Church, assistance of the charitable work of the diocese, education especially of the young, and greater participation in the Mass.
Following the homily, the various individuals and groups who assist the bishop in the day to day service of the diocese were acknowledged. The general intercessions, said in several of the languages spoken in the diocese, preceded the presentation of the gifts.
Following the reception of holy Communion and the final blessing and dismissal the bishops left the assembly, while Bishop Lennon remained and walked throughout his church, blessing the crowd.
Father Thomas Maguire, a longtime friend of Bishop Lennon’s and pastor of St. Helen Parish, Norwell said “They pulled out all the stops — a great welcome for Richard.”