Thursday, June 22, 2006

Installation Day

Good morning from Washington.

Yes, I'm here. And if you don't know why I'm here, you haven't been paying attention.

The ecclesiastical world has converged on the nation's capital for what's shaping up to be the Installation of the Century. The 80 bishops present will sit down to lunch at midmorning at the John Paul II Center -- which, I'm told, is in need of a new executive director.

Following the noshfest, well, it was rehearsed yesterday, and Ann Rodgers was there:
[Archbishop-elect Donald Wuerl] took his place alongside retiring Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and, with the basilica's chief liturgist acting as a stand-in for papal nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the three men bowed before the altar. The other two escorted the former bishop of Pittsburgh to the archbishop's throne, where he pantomimed receiving the crozier, or shepherd's staff, from the papal nuncio.

Yesterday's rehearsal was brief, while today's 2 p.m. Mass will last about two hours. The procession will include nine cardinals, 70 bishops, 250 priests -- about 50 of them from Pittsburgh -- 63 deacons and seven Eastern Orthodox Bishops and priests. The installation, like other large archdiocesan events, is being held in the 3,000-seat basilica because the 1,000-seat cathedral is too small for the expected crowd.

The incoming archbishop seemed relaxed, joking with the small cluster of media who showed up to case the rehearsal.

"The emotion is twofold," he said. "First, there is the excitement of assuming this responsibility. Then there is the realization that this is a very big responsibility. I keep saying to myself that being a bishop is the same, no matter where you are."

Those who've seen him since his Monday arrival here have described the archbishop-elect as being "on cloud nine." 'Twill make for an exciting day; stay tuned for updates.

Martha Rial/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette