Cardinal to bishops: Dwell in world of risen Christ

By Catholic New World
Sunday, August 28, 2011

Editor’s note: The following is Cardinal George’s homily for episcopal ordinations of Bishops Alberto Rojas and AndrewWypych on Aug. 10 at Holy Name Cathedral. See here for our ordination coverage.

It is a great joy to welcome to our cathedral this afternoon the family and friends of Bishop Alberto Rojas, those from our archdiocese and those from other parts of the United States and from Mexico. Many Catholics in this archdiocese have their family roots in Mexico; their lives here and their practice of the Catholic faith here are now woven into our economic, political, social and religious fabric. Welcome, then, to your own home; join your prayers to ours as we ask God to consecrate these bishops to his service and to the service of his people.

It is a joy as well to welcome to this consecration rite those who have come from Poland. Bishop Andrew Wypych’s life and formation as a priest took place in that land which is the ancestral home of many Chicago Catholic families. What Poland planted, Chicago has harvested, and we are grateful. Welcome.

Along with those brothers and sisters in the faith from Mexico and Poland, I welcome as well the many bishops who have come to join us in Chicago for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Rojas and Bishop Wypych. The presence of so many bishops here reminds us all that every bishop’s life is defined by his relationship to Jesus Christ, his relation to the people for whom he bears responsibility in the church, and his relation to his brother bishops in the apostolic college.

We all are who we are because of how we are related, because of those with whom our lives are connected by nature and grace: first of all to God himself, as his creatures, and then, in Christ Jesus, to the Father as his sons and daughters. Then we are related to all those whom God gives us to love in the human race, made in God’s image and likeness, in our human families that give us life and in the family of faith that gives us new life in Christ.

No bishop stands alone. No bishop is ordained for himself. Every bishop and ordained priest has a title, the name of a local church for whose service he is ordained and for the sake of which he is given authority from Christ. The two bishops ordained today have been given title to two ancient Sees, both of which are now buried under the sands of Tunisia, in the ancient Roman province of Carthage. The greatest service that Bishop Rojas and Bishop Wypych can do for the present day inhabitants of that region of northern Africa is to pray for them and for their peace and wellbeing. While the title of a particular church is part of every bishop’s official identity, the real pastoral relationship established today is to the people of this archdiocese as auxiliary or assistant bishops to me. I am most grateful to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, for the gift of their help. In years to come, all of us will count on their dedication and rely on their ministry as they learn how to relate to us and to the world as bishops of the church.

Within the context of these relationships to Christ, the head of his church, and to their brother bishops and to all the people of God, Bishop Rojas and Bishop Wypych will celebrate the sacraments of the apostolic churches and make the people holy through these actions of the risen Christ. They will preach the Gospel and draw people to conversion of mind and heart by teaching them carefully who Christ is. They will govern their vicariates as good shepherds of Christ’s flock. They will be present as pastors to the priests, religious and laypeople of this archdiocese, and especially to the poor, who are the first in the kingdom of heaven.

Their sacred ministry is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who works constantly in the church and in the world to bring new life, to establish the new creation founded on Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The freedom proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah comes from the Spirit, whose free gifts are poured out abundantly in every good work. With St. Paul, bishops are called to a generosity of spirit, a generosity perfected in their total self-sacrifice. With Jesus himself, bishops are to lose their life in obedience to the Father and in service to the church, which is their spouse, as she is Christ’s.

Dear Bishops Wypych and Rojas, love the church, give your lives for her, defend her freedom and give her Christ’s own life, especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Each time the Eucharist is celebrated, the world is changed. Every place in which the Eucharist is made present becomes the center of the cosmos. Dear brother bishops, this is the world in which you are to dwell, the world of the risen Christ, our Eucharistic Lord. Bring into it those who will look to you as guides to eternal life and witnesses to Jesus Christ and to the love that lasts forever. As you take up your new relationships and ministry as bishops, you have our prayers and affection; and we count on yours.