Everybody Loves George
In eight days' time, at a unique liturgy to be presided over by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop William Levada, George Hugh Niederauer will be installed as the eighth archbishop of the City of St. Francis.
The Archbishop-elect of San Francisco brought in a "standing-room" crowd of over 1,000 for his farewell liturgy in Salt Lake City on Sunday.
LDS, Catholics, Protestants, sinners, saints -- all were welcome, which is the Niederauer way, not to mention the Catholic way. Or at least the way Catholics should be....
His sermon was vintage Niederauer - a little wordplay, some personal anecdotes, a retelling of scripture with surprisingly contemporary allusions, including a quote from "The Sound of Music."The new archbishop won't be able to sit on his laurels once he's installed. Forty-eight hours after the close of his own Mass of welcome, it's off across the desert to Reno, to ordain Bishop-elect Randy Calvo -- a former vicar-general to both Levada and his predecessor, John Quinn -- as the new ordinary there.
He spoke about Jesus' compassion, his willingness to heal the sick and lift up the despairing. Though he suffered much, Jesus did not die a failure but triumphed over death, Niederauer said.
Priests have a special role to play in spreading the "good news" of the Christian gospel. That's what he has been doing in Utah.
"It's been my task, my privilege and my job to serve the local Catholic diocese. I was welcomed by Catholics, by LDS and by everyone," he said. "You have been the good news in my life . . . I promise to pray for you always."
As he left the cathedral for the last time, the congregation burst into prolonged applause.
Apparently, between Calvo's well-wishers coming from the Bay Area and his new flock, the installation will be an open event held in the ballroom of the Reno Hilton.
We've had Cathedrals, bigger churches and arenas before, but an episcopal ordination in a ballroom is uncharted territory.
The invitation is out. Quinn's got the homily, and it was announced that the ordination will be conducted "in the presence" of Cardinal Mahony....
I wouldn't advertise the latter bit too much. Screamers might just come from LA to rain on the parade. You'd usually expect the better angels to prevail and think something like that to not be the case -- but these days, sad to say, you just never know.
PHOTO: Salt Lake Tribune/Steve Griffin