July 23, 2010

New era begins as Bishop Timothy L. Doherty is ordained and installed as bishop of Lafayette

Newly ordained Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette receives his crosier from Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein of Indianapolis during the July 15 episcopal ordination and installation liturgy at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Lafayette, Ind. (Photo by Caroline Mooney/The Catholic Moment)

Newly ordained Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette receives his crosier from Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein of Indianapolis during the July 15 episcopal ordination and installation liturgy at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Lafayette, Ind. (Photo by Caroline Mooney/The Catholic Moment)

By Kevin Cullen (The Catholic Moment)

LAFAYETTE, Ind.—Malinda Gustafson says she will never forget entering the historic Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception for the very first time; being part of a standing-room-only crowd of 700; hearing the music swell, then watching plumed Knights of Columbus, 200 vested priests, 25 mitered bishops and two red-robed cardinals process toward the sacred altar.

Behind it, the oaken cathedra, or bishop’s chair. For a generation, it had been occupied by Bishop William L. Higi, and it still bore his personal coat of arms. An era was ending; a new one was about to begin.

People came from across the nation and around the world to be part of the dramatic and soul-stirring July 15 ordination and installation of Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, 59, the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. With solemn promises, sacred chrism and ancient symbols—a crosier, a miter and a ring of amethyst—he became a successor to the Apostles.

“It was a wonderful experience,” said Gustafson, 26, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in DeMotte. Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese. “My favorite part was when they held the Book of the Gospels over his head. He was crying, and I got goose bumps.”

“I think he’ll do a great job, getting out into the community and meeting people,” she said. “He’s a huge [Chicago] Cubs fan so he’s awesome in my book.”

The two-and-a-half hour celebration filled the senses. The 144-year-old church—with its high, vaulted ceilings, gilded stenciling and shimmering

stained- glass—was transformed by the flicker of candlelight, the smell of incense, songs in English and Latin, and pageantry right out of the Middle Ages.

The principal celebrant was Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein of Indianapolis. Co-consecrators were Bishop Higi and Bishop Thomas G. Doran, the shepherd of Bishop Doherty’s home diocese of Rockford, Ill., together with the other three Indiana bishops: Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger of Evansville, Bishop Dale J. Melczek of Gary and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Concelebrants included visiting bishops and archbishops, including Bishop Emeritus Arthur J. O’Neill of Rockford, who ordained Bishop Doherty to the priesthood in 1976; Benedictine Archabbot Justin DuVall of Saint Meinrad Archabbey; Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Cardinal Francis E. George, archbishop of Chicago; Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston; Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo.; priests from the Lafayette and Rockford dioceses, and other invited priests.

The cathedral, once a parish church, was far too small to seat all the people who wanted to experience the special liturgy. Admission was by ticket only. Others watched a live TV broadcast in a nearby social hall and in the gymnasium at Central Catholic Jr./Sr. High School. It also was shown on Indianapolis-based WHMB, Channel 40, and it was streamed live on the Internet. Narration was provided by Father Daniel Mahan, who ministers at Marian University in Indianapolis.

Leslie Mimms, a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Westfield, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, was among those fortunate enough to get a ticket.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime type experience,” she said. “We’re going into a new destiny for our diocese.”

Bishop Doherty, formerly a pastor and health care ethicist in the Diocese of Rockford, was chosen in May by Pope Benedict XVI to succeed Bishop Higi.

Bishop Higi, 76, submitted his resignation letter when he turned 75 in August of 2008 as required by Church law.

Mimms said that she long admired Bishop Higi, and was thrilled to see Bishop Doherty become shepherd to the 24-county diocese, which is home to 105,000 Catholics.

“I think that any spiritual leader who focuses on prayer is going to shepherd people to holiness,” she said. “He seems to be such a grounded, humble man. … He has a genuine love for the Church, and gratitude for the people who put him there.”

Tyler Evans, 19, a member of St. Mary Parish in Anderson, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, watched the installation from the high school.

“This is a big deal,” he said. “It’s an honor to be here. It’s like choosing another disciple. I thought the most powerful part was when the bishop lay on the floor during the Litany of the Saints. He is a very kind man, and I think he will be a great bishop for us.”

After a welcome by Bishop Higi, the first part of the celebration followed the normal order of the Mass: the first reading, from Romans 8; the second reading, from First Corinthians 12; and a chanted recitation of the Gospel from Luke 6.

The Rite of Ordination of a Bishop opened with seven verses, sung in Latin, of a ninth-century hymn to the Holy Spirit titled “Veni Creator Spiritus.” It began, “Veni Creator Spiritus, mentest tuorum visita,” which is Latin for, “Creator Spirit, Lord of Grace; Come make in us your dwelling place ...”

Bishop Doherty was presented to Archbishop Buechlein by Father Paul Cochran, chairman of the Lafayette Diocesan Presbyteral Council. Msgr. Jean-Francois Lantheaume, charge d’affaires representing Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio to the United States, then read the apostolic mandate naming Bishop Doherty to the episcopate.

Msgr. Robert Sell, chancellor and moderator of the curia, presented that document—written in Latin on parchment and signed by Pope Benedict—to the College of Consultors, then showed it to the people.

In his homily, Archbishop Buechlein said, “Bishops are called to live the simple life of the Gospel in a way that somehow mirrors Jesus, the one who serves. Would you agree that, when all is said and done, what our Church needs more than anything from us bishops and priests is integrity and holiness?

“The Church needs us to be no-nonsense, down-to-earth, holy, spiritual and moral leaders who are who we claim to be,” he said. “With Jesus, in Jesus and for Jesus, that is the ultimate service, the ultimate witness to the unity of faith. God bless you, Bishop Doherty, with many fruitful years of living his call to holiness.”

After his homily, Archbishop Buechlein asked Bishop Doherty a series of questions designed to show his resolution to uphold the faith and faithfully discharge his duties as bishop.

The “Litany of Supplication” followed. Bishop Doherty lay prostrate—face down—on a rug before the altar as the Litany of the Saints was sung. During it, dozens of saints were named and asked to pray for him.

Each bishop then placed his hands on the head of Bishop Doherty as a sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Archbishop Buechlein and other bishops followed that with the solemn Prayer of Consecration, during which two priests held the opened Book of Gospels over his head, signifying that preaching the word of God is a bishop’s most important obligation. At that moment of consecration, he became a bishop.

Archbishop Buechlein then anointed Bishop Doherty’s head with sacred chrism, and presented him with the Book of the Gospels, a symbol of his ministry of preaching; his ring, a symbol of his marriage to Christ’s bride, the Church; his ivory and gold miter, reminding him of his call to holiness; and his gilded crosier, a symbol of the shepherd’s crook and reminder of his role as a good shepherd to Christ’s flock.

Bishop Doherty then ascended the steps to sit in the cathedra. A bit overwhelmed at that singular moment, he smiled as the clergy and the congregation burst into heartfelt applause.

After the Mass, the new bishop thanked his family, his friends, former colleagues and his beloved brother priests from the Diocese of Rockford. Then he noted that July 15 was the feast day of St. Bonaventure.

“The love of God through Christ should mark the beginning and the end of our days,” he said. “Today we remember St. Bonaventure, not because he was a rare mystic, but because he encouraged us all to live at that wonderful, deeper level.”

Finally, as the music played, he walked down each aisle to bless everyone with the sign of the cross.

A new era had begun.

(Kevin Cullen is editor of The Catholic Moment, newspaper of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana.)

Local site Links: