Love the church, defend and give your lives for her

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Sunday, August 28, 2011

Love the church, defend and give your lives for her

Bishops lay hands upon the heads of Bishops Andrew Wypych (left) and Alberto Rojas (right) during the rite of ordination. This gesture expresses the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was used by the apostles when they appointed their successors. Cardinal George (center) presided as consecrator during the ordinations at Holy Name Cathedral on Aug. 10. He was assisted by co-consecrators Bishop Józef Guzdek of the Military Ordinariatee of Poland and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, who is a former auxiliary bishop of Chicago. (Natalie Battaglia / Catholic New World)
More than 300 priests vested for the ordination and joined the filled pews of laypeople and religious at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Cardinal George places the miter on the head of Bishop Wypych. The miter is a liturgical headdress proper to all bishops, including the pope, and dates back to the 10th century. (Jon L Hendricks / Catholic New World)

Aug. 10 turned out to be an ideal summer day for an ordination. The sun was shining in blue skies and the temperature was mild, following some days of intense heat. The weather set the tone for an afternoon celebration at Holy Name Cathedral that was steeped in the majesty and tradition of the Catholic Church.

The ordinations of Auxiliary Bishops Alberto Rojas and Andrew Wypych included many somber moments that called upon the Holy Spirit’s intercession.

There were also some lighthearted moments such as when laughter reverberated through the congregation as Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry reached out to adjust Bishop Rojas’ miter after the latter was embraced by 30 bishops and his miter was starting to slip off the back of his head.

There was also the moment when the two bishops blessed each other before ascending the stairs to the altar after they had walked around the cathedral blessing the congregation. Enthusiastic cheers and clapping from the crowd greeted the two men.

More than 300 priests vested for the Mass and 30 bishops and archbishops joined Cardinal George in the sanctuary. Two of them served as co-consecrators with the cardinal — Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio (former bishop of Vicariate V and former liaison to the Hispanic community) and Bishop Jozef Guzdek of the Military Ordinariate of Poland.

It was a multi-lingual Mass. Interpreters signed the Mass in American Sign Language for attendees and the readings and hymns were split up between English, Spanish and Polish. Cardinal George and Bishops Rojas and Wypych each spoke in the three languages at some point during the liturgy.

Called to serve

The rite of ordination began after the Gospel reading. Rojas and Wypych were presented to the cardinal and the letter from Pope Benedict XVI naming them bishops was read. Following this, Cardinal George delivered his homily. (For the text of the cardinal’s homily, see Page 9.)

After greeting Bishops Rojas’ and Wypych’s families in their native languages, Cardinal George told the congregation that we all live in relationship: to God and to those whom he has given us to love.

“No bishop stands alone. No bishop is ordained for himself,” the cardinal said. “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 cardinal explained that the two new bishops are ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago but are also heads of ancient titular sees, or dioceses where the church once flourished but doesn’t exist anymore. It is a common practice that bishops are also given titular sees and, as the cardinal explained during their ordination, the bishops are to pray for the people of these lands today.

The titular sees of Bishops Rojas and Wypych both existed in modern-day Tunisia, which in ancient times was the location of Carthage.

Cardinal George went on to describe the duties these two men will fulfill in the archdiocese as auxiliary bishops.

“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,” he said.

The cardinal told the men that they are to “love the church, give your lives for her,” defend her freedom and give “her Christ’s own life” especially through the 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,” he said.

Making them bishops

After the homily, the cardinal examined bishop candidates for their fidelity to the church and its mission. Next, the men laid prostrate before the altar while the congregation knelt and chanted the Litany of the Saints. Then the cardinal laid hands upon the heads of the men and all of the bishops present followed suit. This posture is the same gesture to express the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was used by the apostles when they appointed their successors.

Next, the books of the Gospels were placed over the bishops’ heads and the cardinal prayed the prayer of consecration. Their  heads were then anointed with sacred oil and each bishop was presented with the symbols of the office: crosier, miter, ring and a book of the Gospels. Lastly, Bishops Rojas and Wypych were greeted with the “kiss of peace” by all of the bishops present.

Mass then progressed as usual.

At the end of Mass, the two new bishops were given a few minutes to address the congregation.

Bishop Wypych, who will be the cardinal’s liaison to Polishspeaking Catholics and vicar of Vicariate V, said he always wanted to be a priest but didn’t plan to be a bishop.

“I never thought and I never planned to address bishops as my brothers,” he said. “I’m in awe before God.”

He greeted those who came from Poland for his ordination and said immigrants are important to Chicago and to the local church.

“It’s possible in this great land to make it a home,” he said. “We bring so much to this local church and great city.”

Bishop Rojas also expressed disbelief in becoming a bishop. All he wanted was to be a pastor, he said.

“Obviously, my plans are not necessarily God’s plans for me,” he said. “Isn’t God’s sense of humor awesome?”

Bishop Rojas will be the cardinal’s liaison to Hispanic Catholics and vicar for Vicariate III. Fourteen years ago, Bishop Rojas was ordained a priest by Cardinal George. Like Wypych, he stressed the importance of “reaching out to the next generation of immigrants like myself.”

Following the ordinations, former Chicago auxiliary and now San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller offered some advice to the new bishops. Bishop Rojas is taking over Garcia-Siller’s role as liaison to Hispanic Catholics. Bishop Wypych is taking over Vicariate V, where Archbishop Garcia-Siller served as vicar before his appointment to San Antonio.

To Bishop Rojas, the archbishop advised him to work closely with the Office for Hispanic Catholics and to connect with the priests in the parishes. He recommended that Bishop Rojas “call on the Holy Spirit constantly to guide him in his ministry.”

For Bishop Wypych in Vicariate V, the archbishop said he is glad there is a Polish-speaking bishop in the vicariate to serve its many Polish-speakers. His advice to Bishop Wypych was “to take care of the poor parishes — especially the most disadvantaged.”