The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our New Bishop Installed

Yesterday our pastor, and four of our deacons, along with two of our wives, drove to Orlando and joined a few thousand other people who attended the Installation Mass of Bishop John Noonan, the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Orlando. The Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando. Although the shrine church seats over 2,000 people, it was a standing room only crowd. I knew it would be crowded when the deacons were told our seating would be on folding chairs in the area at the back of the sanctuary. I suspect there were close to a hundred of us packed in back there.

The installation was performed by Bishop Noonan's predecessor, the fourth bishop of Orlando, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who is now the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Miami. Also present was the third bishop or Orlando, now-retired Bishop Emeritus Norbert Dorsey, along with quite a few current and retired bishops from other Florida dioceses. 
Archbishop Wenski (right) congratulating  Bishop Noonan at his installation
It was a beautiful Mass and the music was absolutely wonderful. The large choir and the musicians who accompanied them added much to the beauty of the liturgy. It was also evident that the people of the diocese were happy to meet their new bishop and to hear him preach. His homily was a moving call to do more to bring the Good News to the community at large, particularly to "the silent and forgotten among us."

Listening to him, one is reminded of his origins, for he still retains a bit of his Irish brogue. Born in Limerick, Ireland, Bishop Noonan, 59, came to the United States as a young man, eventually settling in the Miami area. Ordained to the priesthood in 1983 in the Archdiocese of Miami, he spent most of his subsequent ministry involved in education at both the high school and college seminary levels. This was evident during his homily when he paid special attention to the seminarians of the diocese and called them forward to be acknowledged by the congregation. As a consequence of his 15 years as rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Bishop Noonan has a close relationship with many of these young men whose spiritual and intellectual formation was largely his responsibility.
Bishop Noonan receives a hug after his installation
After Mass several of us made a brief stop at the shrine's large gift shop, which is a great place to buy Christmas and other gifts. The shop also has a wonderful selection of religious books; and so, naturally, I bought a few. And for those who make the occasional family trip to Orlando and all its attractions and theme parks, I recommend stopping by the shrine for Mass and prayer during your stay in the area. It's located right off Interstate 4, not far from both Disney World and Sea World, and it's definitely worth a visit.
After leaving the gift shop it suddenly dawned on Diane and me that we were hungry. We had been up since 5 a.m. because we had to get the meal started at the the soup kitchen before heading off to the installation in Orlando. And now, late in the afternoon, we realized we hadn't really had anything to eat all day. And so another deacon and his wife joined us at a nice little steakhouse not far from the shrine. 

From there is was a 75-minute drive home where we faced the ongoing task of wrapping Christmas gifts before the grandchildren arrive next week. All in all, a good day, and a blessing for the local church of the Diocese of Orlando.

Keep our new bishop in your prayers.

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