Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, left, presents Bishop Daniel Thomas with the crosier during his installation Wednesday at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral.
The Most Rev. Daniel E. Thomas took the golden staff on Wednesday symbolizing that he is Toledo's new Catholic bishop and then took his seat at the center of Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral.
With dozens of priests, bishops, archbishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, and a representative of Pope Francis seated around him, Bishop Thomas spoke personally and emotionally to the hundreds of parishioners from throughout Toledo and northwest Ohio who came to meet their new bishop.
“I love you, I can't wait to get to know you, and I can't wait for you to get to know me,” he said as if he was sitting in a parish hall talking to the faithful.
But he also got down to business, telling them why he had been sent to Toledo to lead them by the Holy Father.
“The task of each bishop, together with all the people, is to announce the good news and proclaim the gospel of Christ," Bishop Thomas said before his celebrated Mass. “To all the faithful of the Diocese of Toledo, as their new shepherd in Christ, I pledge that when the evil one comes, I will not run away. And I pray that, with you, we will stand against him in every temptation.
“With all my heart I pledge to love you with every fiber of my being, to hold you daily close in prayer, and to teach, govern, and sanctify as the father would have me do in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
At one point in his address to the more than 1,200 assembled, Bishop Thomas, overcome with emotion, had to stop speaking for a moment when relating a story about the late pope, St. John Paul II when he was visiting in Philadelphia, where Bishop Thomas served before appointed bishop of Toledo.
He was relating a personal story about St. John Paul II, which was told to him as a seminarian by Cardinal John Kroll, who was archbishop of Philadelphia then. Both the pope and the cardinal became influences to Bishop Thomas, as the cardinal ordained him a priest, and he worked for the pope in the Vatican when he was on the staff of the Congregation for Bishops.
The story was about when Pope John Paul visited Philadelphia, and stayed in Cardinal Kroll's residence. In the middle of the night, the cardinal wanted to check on the pope. He couldn’t find him in the bedroom, the kitchen, or the library. Telling the story, Bishop Thomas had to pause because of emotion. When he spoke, he said that Cardinal Kroll, through a partly opened door to the chapel, saw the pope prostrate in prayer before the Eucharist.
Wednesday's Eucharist for the Mass was celebrated by Bishop Thomas with a chalice and bread holder presented to him by his parents when he was ordained. He said Pope John Paul II celebrated a private Mass with those pieces in 1995.
After the installation service, Shellee Murcko, a member of the diocesan choir, who sang the psalm in the service, said, “I saw a couple of shuddering breaths.”
Despite the grandeur, what many called pomp and circumstance associated with this rare religious assembly, Bishop Thomas felt the personal touches.
He was the bishop of focus Wednesday when more than 40 bishops, archbishops, Cardinal Dolan, and an archabbott, Justin Duvall of St. Meinrad, Ind., all gathered in support of the new Toledo bishop.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano read a letter from Pope Francis, who referred to Toledo as the Glass City. And Archbishop Leonard Blair, the seventh bishop of Toledo, returned as well for Bishop Thomas's installation.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York smiles as he is led into Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral for the installation ceremony.
Bishop Thomas spoke appreciative words about Bishop Blair, Toledo’s former bishop who is now archbishop of Hartford, and Archbishop Charles Chaput, Bishop Thomas’ former leader in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
And he said the Rev. Charles Ritter, who served as diocesan administrator between the time of Bishop Blair and Bishop Thomas, was “the happiest person in this cathedral” now that a new bishop is in office.
He also thanked Father Ritter for “keeping the ship afloat,” a reference to Father Ritter’s goal when he took over in December.
The ceremony demonstrated much of the ritual and hierarchy of Roman Catholicism.
At 2:32 pm., Bishop Thomas was formally installed — and sat in a ceremonial chair — indicating the beginning of his tenure as bishop of the Toledo diocese. The ringing of tambourines and a chorus of voices earlier welcomed Bishop Thomas, as hundreds of Catholics from all over arrived for his installation.
Cardinal Dolan is the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to cardinal in 2012.
He has recently returned to the United States from a two-week meeting in Rome where bishops discussed family life issues, including marriage and the church's reception of gay parishioners.
Cardinal Dolan's visit marked a rare appearance by a cardinal in Toledo. The last cardinal to visit was Cardinal Adam Maida, who has since retired as archbishop of Detroit.
He was at Rosary Cathedral in February, 2003, for the funeral Mass of Bishop James Hoffman. Cardinal Maida returned in December, 2003, for the installation of Bishop Leonard Blair, the only cardinal among 43 archbishops and bishops from 14 states and the District of Columbia and more than 350 priests and deacons for the installation of Bishop Blair.
Mayor D. Michael Collins receives communion from the Most Reverend Daniel E. Thomas during his installation ceremony.
In 1995, Cardinal Joseph Bernadin of the Archdiocese of Chicago spoke at the Urban All-American Awards dinner sponsored by Central City Ministries of Toledo.
Mayor D. Michael Collins was in attendance, but rather than sitting in a pew reserved for civic leaders, he sat one pew forward, in the space for ecumenical leaders, so he could sit by Woody and Judy Lee Trautmann of the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio.
The cathedral was full, and more than 20 reservation labels accounted for every pew and some other seats as well.
After the service, speaking about the new bishop, Archabott Duvall said, “I think it's a great day for Toledo. Obviously I'm prejudiced because of the diocese, but I think Bishop Thomas will bring a real spirit of freshness and … good evangelization in the diocese.”
Bishop Thomas spoke much of evangelization in his sermon. He also highlighted the rosary while speaking in the cathedral named for the rosary. He said that he would emphasize the five new mysteries of the rosary that John Paul introduced in 2002.
“It’s tracing [Jesus’] public ministry, that’s what those mysteries are really about,” said Deacon Scott Woods afterward. The deacon provided radio commentary during the service.
“It’s now up to the new bishop to see how we might choose to depict those mysteries which John Paul added to the rosary,” Bishop Thomas said in his homily, “the luminous mysteries which are not yet here, but I assure you will be here.” That promise brought applause.
The bishop now plans to learn about his diocese and flock, starting a tour of all deaneries, or districts, in the 19-county diocese, hoping to finish by Christmas.
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