With prayers, personal remarks from clerics, and a round of enthusiastic applause from several hundred in attendance, the official portrait of the late Bishop James Hoffman was unveiled at Rosary Cathedral this week.
Monsignor Edward Dunn, representing senior diocesan clerics, and the Rev. Michael Zacharias, the last priest to be ordained by Bishop Hoffman, pulled the curtains off the oil painting after a Memorial Mass for Deceased Clergy in Rosary Cathedral. The memorial Mass was held Tuesday night on the second anniversary of Bishop Hoffman's death from cancer at age 70. The Fremont native had been bishop of the 19-county diocese since Feb. 17, 1981.
Bishop Leonard Blair, appointed by Pope John Paul II in October, 2003, to succeed Bishop Hoffman, presided at the Memorial Mass and said during the unveiling ceremony that "this truly beautiful portrait is worthy of this magnificent cathedral, it is worthy of this historic diocese, and it is worthy of Bishop James Hoffman."
The 38-inch-by-51-inch painting, created by Toledo artist Leslie Adams, will be installed in the newly renovated Bishop's Chapel of Rosary Cathedral alongside portraits of five previous Toledo bishops - Bishop Joseph Schrembs, Cardinal Samuel Stritch, Bishop Karl Alter, Bishop George Rehring, and Bishop John Donovan - and Monsignor Anthony Dean, the first rector of the cathedral.
Those portraits were restored recently by Columbus art expert Kelly Walker and the Bishop's Chapel, where the weekly Sunday Mass television program is filmed, has undergone extensive renovation.
Ms. Adams said the new portrait, painted in a classical realist style to match the look of the other bishops' portraits, took about a year of planning and painting. She studied videotapes of Bishop Hoffman and used some of his personal items, including his crucifix, books, and vestments, in creating the painting.
In the portrait, Bishop Hoffman is sitting cross-legged in his chair with a Bible open to I Corinthians 9:22, a Scripture that contains his motto, "Omnia Omnibus," Latin for "All things to all people."
Paula Daniel of Tiffin, Bishop Hoffman's sister, said after the ceremony: "I think it's great. It really captures his smile."
Bishop Hoffman's nephew, Patrick Militello, also praised Ms. Adams' work, calling the portrait "amazing."
Also honored at the Memorial Mass were deceased diocesan priests the Rev. Carlton Ott; the Rev. William Richter; the Rev. Robert Curtis; the Rev. Thomas Ankenbrandt; the Rev. Thomas Quinn, and the Rev. Thomas Beauregard; and Deacons Richard White; Ramon Genaro, and Jose Sanchez, all of whom died within the last year.
Each Roman Catholic diocese holds its annual Memorial Mass for Deceased Clergy on the date of death of the last bishop.
- David Yonke