ASTORIA — On a rainy Sunday a week after being named a Cardinal, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, found himself at a Queens parish celebrating Mass for the feast day of its namesake, as if nothing had changed.
On Sunday, July 16, Cardinal-designate Pierre celebrated Mass and participated in a procession at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, on what was the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The presence of the pope’s U.S. representative at the Mass was certainly unique, but something he said is important to his ministry.
“When I was asked to enter this service of the pope, I was afraid to lose my pastoral dimension,” Cardinal-designate Pierre told The Tablet. “I became a priest in order to be with the people, in order to evangelize, so I’ve always done that … What is important is to share the life of the people where they are.
“I think it’s important because my function of representing the pope, I want to be the presence of the pope where the people are,” he continued. “It’s not just an administrative job, because even like today I get to see the life of a parish, but on the other hand, it’s always related to the universal church and I hope people will feel that.”
Cardinal-designate Pierre, 77, is from Rennes, France. He has been apostolic nuncio to the United States since 2016. Prior to that, he was a nuncio in Uganda, Haiti, and Mexico. In his role he has many times delivered the news to priests of their bishop appointments, but didn’t expect to get the call himself.
“I was asleep. Actually, I had traveled, I came back late the day before, so I was supposed to wake up at 7 o’clock, and then I got the phone call,” Cardinal-designate Pierre said. “My reaction was a bit surprised because I was not expecting it to happen because it was not in my perspective, certainly not at that time.”
Before the Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel there was a procession around the block that Cardinal-designate Pierre, Bishop Robert Brennan, and Diocese of Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishops Raymond Chappetto and Octavio Cisneros all participated.
The procession concluded in the church — then filled to standing room only — where Bishop Brennan welcomed Cardinal-designate Pierre to the diocese, and highlighted his “availability, his accessibility, his desire to live among us, walk among us, accompany us on this journey of faith.”
“I want to welcome you most warmly to the diocese here in Brooklyn and Queens, to celebrate with us on this great feast day,” Bishop Brennan said. “Thank you once again for joining us and for leading us in prayer, and thanks to all of you for coming out and professing your faith, even in the rain.”