Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Under New Management": The Fall Cycle Begins

Labor Day Weekend might still be at hand, but the church circuit's fall roster begins this afternoon in Green Bay with David Ricken's installation as the Wisconsin diocese's 12th bishop.

Scheduled to begin at 2pm local time (3pm in the East, 1900GMT), the liturgy from Pack Country's St Francis Xavier Cathedral will be livestreamed by the local Fox affiliate. Ricken's siblings will serve as lectors while Cardinals Adam Maida of Detroit and Francis George of Chicago headline the visiting high-hat contingent looking on as Archbishops Tim Dolan of Milwaukee and the papal nuncio Pietro Sambi conduct the rites of possession.

Named to lead Green Bay's 350,000 Catholics in July, the 55 year-old prelate -- a former staffer at the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy -- led Wyoming's statewide diocese of Cheyenne since 2001. In his new charge, Ricken is expected to continue the diocese's reconfiguration of parishes and schools in light of the significant demographic shifts experienced by not a few US dioceses over recent decades.

With more Stateside appointments soon to come as Rome reawakens following its traditional summer hiatus, early September'll see three more installations on these shores: the 3 September ordination of Bishop-elect Herbert Bevard on St Thomas, then Bishop Fran Malooly's inaugural in Wilmington and the Newark ordination of Auxiliary-elect Manny Cruz, both on the 8th.

As of this writing, the American docket comprises 16 dioceses awaiting a change of command -- seven vacancies, nine with ordinaries serving past the canonical retirement age of 75.

Over the next week alone, the latter figure will rise by two, as Bishop William Higi of Lafayette in Indiana marks his 75th tomorrow, followed late next week by Bishop Bernard Harrington of Winona.

PHOTO: Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph