Wednesday, May 06, 2009

"Meet Me in St Louis"

First reported here Friday, it's now official: Archbishop-elect Robert Carlson will be installed in St Louis at a 2pm Mass on 10 June.

The ninth archbishop to take the reins of the 560,000-member church the "Rome of the West," Carlson will be installed by the city's seventh archbishop, now Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.

While it's unusual for a metropolitan to have his enthronement conducted by someone other than the papal representative to the place in question, the practice has precedent even in the Gateway City's recent past: in 1994, Rigali's own installation in St Louis' "New Cathedral" was presided over by the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

And the more things change, the buzz goes, they might just be staying the same.

The Wednesday Mass will be preceded by a 7.30pm Solemn Vespers on the 9th. Keeping with the longstanding tradition of the 2,700-seat mosaiced wonder, both events are open to the public, but will likewise be webstreamed for folks beyond.

The twin rites will take place two weeks before Carlson leaves for Rome, where he'll receive the pallium -- the symbol of the metropolitan office -- from Pope Benedict on 29 June alongside the world's new archbishops appointed over the last year.

As of this writing, the Stateside delegation in line to receive the woolen band numbers three, with Archbishops Allen Vigneron of Detroit and (St Louis' own) Timothy Dolan of New York joining the new pastor of Cardinals' Nation.

As the newly-named head of a metropolitan church need only be appointed before receiving the ancient symbol from the pontiff, it's quite possible that the 2009 pallium class will be the largest coming from these shores in recent years; currently atop the appointment docket are the archdioceses of Omaha and New Orleans, whose current heads reached the retirement age of 75 in 2007.