What to Look for in Ordination Ceremony

Whether attending in person or watching on TV, there are several key moments during the ordination of a bishop that are of interest.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y., places a miter on the head of Auxiliary Bishop Frank J. Caggiano during his ordination at Our Lady of Angels Church in Brooklyn Aug. 22. Auxiliary Bishops Octavio Cisneros and Guy A. Sansaricq were also ordained during the ceremony. The appointments of the three Brooklyn auxiliaries were announced in Washington June 6 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. (CNS photo/Keith Bedford, Reuters)

Here are some of those moments to watch for:

When everything is ready, the procession moves through the church to the altar in the usual way.  A deacon carries the Book of the Gospels, which is to be used during the Mass and the Ordination, and is followed by other deacons, if present.

They are followed by the concelebrating priests, each of the bishops-elect between the priests assisting him, then the ordaining bishops, and, finally, the principal ordaining bishop slightly behind them.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio will be the main consecrator.  Co-consecrators will be Auxiliary Bishops Frank Caggiano and Octavio Cisneros.

The Introductory Rites and the Liturgy of the Word up to and including the Gospel reading continue in the usual way.

After the Gospel reading, the deacon reverently places the Book of the Gospels back on the altar, where it remains until it is held above the head of the newly ordained bishop.

The Ordination of the Bishops begins after the Gospel reading.  While all stand, the hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus or, depending on local custom, another hymn similar to it is sung.

Each of the bishops-elect is led by the priests assisting him to the principal ordaining bishop, before whom he makes a sign of reverence.

Each of the bishops-elect is presented by one of the priests assisting him, who addresses the principal ordaining bishop in these words:

“Most Reverend Father, the Church asks of you to ordain this priest to the office of bishop.”

After each has been presented, the principal ordaining bishop asks: “Have you a mandate from the Apostolic See?”

One of the priests replies: “We have.”

Principal ordaining bishop says, “Let it be read.”

Everyone sits while the document is read. After the reading, all present give their assent to the election of the bishops by saying: “Thanks be to God.”

Then the principal ordaining bishop, while all are seated, gives the homily.

Taking his theme from the biblical readings just proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word, he addresses the clergy and the people, as well as the bishops-elect on the office of bishop.

After the homily, the bishops-elect alone rise and stand in front of the principal ordaining bishop, who questions them together in these words:

“The ancient rule of the Holy Fathers ordains that a bishop-elect is to be questioned in the presence of the people on his resolve to uphold the faith and to discharge his duty.

“And so, dear brothers, do you resolve by the grace of the Holy Spirit to discharge until death the office entrusted to us by the Apostles, which we are about to pass on to you by the laying on of our hands?”

The bishops-elect reply: “I do.”

After several other questions and responses, the bishops put aside their miters, and all stand. The principal ordaining bishop, with hands joined, faces the people and invites them to pray. The bishops-elect prostrate themselves, and the litany is sung; all reply.

Following the litany, all rise.  The bishops to be ordained approach the principal ordaining bishop, who stands at his chair wearing the miter, and kneel before him.

The principal ordaining bishop lays his hands upon the head of each of the bishops-elect, without saying anything. Then one after another, all the bishops go to the bishops-elect and lay hands on them, without saying anything.

After the Laying on of Hands, the bishops remain alongside the principal ordaining bishop until the end of the Prayer of Ordination in such a way that the faithful may have a clear view of the rite.

The principal ordaining bishop receives copies of the Book of the Gospels from one of the deacons and places it, open, upon the head of each of the bishops-elect; two deacons, standing on the right and on the left of each of the bishops elect, hold the Book of the Gospels above the head of the bishop-elect, until the end of the Prayer of Ordination.

With the bishops-elect kneeling before him, the principal ordaining bishop puts aside the miter, and the ordaining bishops, also without miter, remain by his side.

With hands extended, he sings or says the Prayer of Ordination.

After the Prayer of Ordination, the deacons remove the Book of the Gospels which they have been holding above the head of each of the newly ordained bishops. One of them holds the book until it is given to the newly ordained bishop.

All sit.  The principal ordaining bishop and the other ordaining bishops put on their miters.

The principal ordaining bishop puts on a linen gremial and, taking the Holy Chrism from one of the deacons, anoints the head of each of the newly ordained bishops, who kneel before him.

Then the principal ordaining bishop washes his hands.

Taking the Book of the Gospels from a deacon, the principal ordaining bishop presents it to the newly ordained bishop, saying: “Receive the Gospel and preach the word of God with all patience and sound teaching.”

Afterward, the deacon takes the Book of the Gospels and returns it to its place.

The principal ordaining bishop places the ring on the ring finger of the right hand of each of the newly ordained bishops

Then the principal ordaining bishop places a miter on the head of each of the newly ordained bishops.

Lastly, he gives a crosier to each of the newly ordained bishops

After setting aside their crosiers, the newly ordained bishops rise and receive the fraternal kiss from the principal ordaining bishop and all the other bishops.

The Mass continues in the usual way. The Profession of Faith is said when required by the rubrics; the Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful) is omitted.

In the Eucharistic Prayer, mention is made of the newly ordained bishops.

At the conclusion of the Prayer after Communion, the hymn Te Deum or, depending on local custom, another hymn similar to it is sung. Meanwhile, the newly ordained bishops, after taking their miters and crosiers, are led by the ordaining bishops through the church, and they bless all who are present.

After the hymn, the newly ordained bishops stand at the altar, with miter and crosier.

The bishop who presided at the Liturgy of the Eucharist gives the blessing.

After the blessing and following the dismissal of the people by a deacon, the procession returns to the vesting room in the usual way.

Bishops Guy Sansaricq, Octavio Cisneros and Frank Caggiano pray during their episcopal ordination ceremony on Aug. 22, 2006 at Our Lady of Angels Church, Bay Ridge.


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