Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Jesus Will Never De-Friend You": On Opening Day, "Coaklahoma" Conjures Facebook

Sure, the top-ranked Kansas ballsquad might've lost big in a shocker tonight... yet even so, the Sunflower State's recent conspicuous rise in the ecclesiastical ranks was sealed on Friday as Wichita's own Paul Coakley was installed as archbishop of Oklahoma City.

The first of three Kansans raised to the Stateside bench in the last half-decade -- and the Sunflower State's first homegrown metropolitan since Denver -- local reports say that the 55 year-old prelate has arrived as a breath of fresh air in Sooner Country, where the need for priestly vocations and a significant Hispanic emergence over recent years stand as key pastoral challenges on the local scene. (For his part, Coakley's said to be able to say Mass and preach in Spanish, and he left his prior diocese -- Northeast Kansas' Salina church -- with its largest crop of seminarians in decades.)

On the ground, as one OKC cleric (who's never a slouch in the candor department) put it, the fourth archbishop "has made a strongly positive first impression" and "comes across as a 'regular priest' who happens to be serving as an archbishop."

In light of the Oklahoma church's post-Council history as a progressive hotspot -- before his days as the "Lion of San Francisco," John Raphael Quinn was, after all, the state's first metropolitan -- the op added that, among the priests, "the interesting thing about the great first impression is that it is shared by the 'John Paul II' set along with the 'old' Vatican II types.

"This means he doesn’t polarize but unite. That's exciting and encouraging. Maybe he will pull us together."

A self-confessed devotee of social media, Coakley's opening notably made a particularly strong appeal to youth, alongside offering one of the most substantive definitions of the "New Evangelization" just at a moment when the Roman Curia has seen its first new dicastery founded in a quarter century, the push dedicated to promoting the last pontificate's cherished concept of an ecclesial reboot.

Along those lines -- in what's almost certain to be the first inaugural preach to refer to Facebook -- here below is fullvid of Coakley's installation homily:

Weighing in at over two hours, on-demand video of the complete Installation Mass is also posted.

Alongside Archbishops Peter Sartain of Seattle, Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, and José Gomez of Los Angeles -- who'll formally take the helm of the nation's largest local church come month's end -- Coakley will head to Rome to receive his metropolitan's pallium from B16 on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29th.

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Likewise of note, while the Oklahoma handover is the last double-bar installation the Stateside bench is set to see for a good while, it accordingly happened to mark Archbishop Pietro Sambi's return to the scene after the "Super-Nuncio" was forced to spend almost three months off the road due to a detached retina.

His "thorough" reports to Rome now having lain the groundwork for the appointment of 18 of the nation's 33 Latin-church archbishops (that is, 55% of the posts) in just shy of five years, in his OKC remarks, B16's man on these shores quoted extensively from the pontiff's Q&A with the American bishops in Washington during the 2008 PopeTrip.

That said, Sambi's latest pre-bull talk didn't have the force of his introductory words at his last traveling turn -- García-Siller's November installation in San Antonio -- when the Vatican messenger's frequent talking point on the need for unity in the church climaxed with what could well have been the most potent public comment of his tenure in the States.....

PHOTO: Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman