"What I Can Give Back"
Prior to his installation, [Archbishop Allen] Vigneron said he is about to give back the gift of faith he received in the Archdiocese of Detroit as a little boy and a seminarian.While some four cardinals and almost 40 bishops had committed to attend today's festivities, several were conspicuous by their absence, ostensibly due to the area's latest winter storm last night and today. The high-hats were joined by over 230 priests.
"What the church and the archdiocese has given me, it's made my life rich," said Vigneron, the first of 10 bishops of Detroit to have been born and raised in the archdiocese. "And it's what I can give back in return."
Vigneron said he is looking forward to the opportunity to serve the church in Detroit, where he returns after five years as bishop of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif.
There are "wonderful human resources and human gifts here, and it isn't as bad as people make out," he said, in response to a question about the difficulties in Metro Detroit. "So many of the people I know are churchgoers and have a tremendous faith in God. I am one who believes that kind of culture can produce a better day. But we have to forget the culture of the past."
Vigneron, 60, grew up in southern St. Clair County in the Immaculate Conception parish that his ancestors helped found in the 19th century.
In a news conference this morning before he was installed, Vigneron discussed the need to foster Catholic schools in the 1.4 million-Catholic archdiocese and to attend to the vast cultural diversity within Metro Detroit.
"We need to look at cultural differences as blessings and as gifts," he said. "It is much more than just sharing international cuisines."
About Catholic schools, more than 80 of which have closed since 1990, when his predecessor, Cardinal Adam Maida, came to Detroit, Vigneron said he would do what he could to maintain the education of Catholic children.
"I would like to be able to say to any Catholic child, 'We'll make it possible for you to go to a Catholic school.' But we can't print money," he said.
PHOTO: Donna Terek/The Detroit News