Monday, December 21, 2009

In Cinci, "Adjuticor" No More

This morning, as expected, Pope Benedict accepted the age-induced resignation of the nation's senior active prelate, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, paving the way for the succession of his coadjutor, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr (above), who's been waiting in the wings since October 2008.

Having reached the retirement age of 75 in August, Pilarczyk's departure was delayed to allow him a fitting farewell from the helm of his hometown church, which took place yesterday as he celebrated a Mass commemorating his 27th anniversary as archbishop, 35th as a bishop and his golden jubilee of priestly ordination, each of which took place on 20 December.

Long regarded as one of the bench's finest minds, last month's USCCB plenary saw Pilarczyk named the body's parliamentarian following the retirement of longtime floor manager Henry Robert.

Given the archbishop's history of point-raising at the meetings, the move's announcement sparked a round of affectionate laughs from the body. The USCCB's president from 1989-92, Pilarczyk will likely be able to keep the parliamentarian's post in retirement.

A former general secretary of the Mothership and his now-predecessor's first choice to fill the post, the new Cinci chief, 61, comes to the cathedra with strengths as both a top-flight administrator and a keen recruiter of seminarians; Schnurr's seven years in Duluth saw the Northland diocese's formation crop nearly triple, numbering 23 on his departure.

The mother-diocese of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, the 500,000-member "Queen City" church is one of the nation's oldest archdioceses, elevated in 1850 alongside New Orleans and New York. What's more, Pilarczyk's 27-year reign has only been surpassed by one of his eight predecessors: the legendary John Baptist Purcell, who held the post from 1833 to 1883.

Lacking a formal liturgy to inaugurate his tenure, Schnurr released a video message to the archdiocese on the morning's news. The Iowa-born prelate becomes the US church's second member of the 2010 "pallium class" who'll receive the symbol of the archbishop's office from the Pope at next 29 June's feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome; as of this writing, the lone other heading over is Archbishop-elect Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, who'll be installed there on 4 January.

By summer's start, though, the Midwestern duo will likely be joined by Archbishop Alex Brunett's successor in Seattle, where the incumbent is nearly a year past the retirement age. Home to roughly a million Catholics, the vibrant, richly diverse Washington church has tripled in size since 1990, becoming the West's second-largest metropolitan post after Los Angeles.

With Pilarczyk's retirement, six Stateside dioceses remain vacant, with just four others -- the smallest such grouping in memory -- led by prelates serving past 75 and, ergo, awaiting liberation.
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Likewise this morning, in a move whose waves are already being felt far beyond Saskatchewan, the Pope named Msgr Don Bolen (above), vicar-general of his native Regina, as bishop of Saskatoon.

An alum of St Paul's in Ottawa and advanced studies at Oxford, the 48 year-old nominee became a beloved figure in Rome, where he ran the desk overseeing Anglican and Methodist relations at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from 2000 until returning home in 2007. Alongside his day job, Bolen spent weekends serving on the ministry team of the Caravita, the open-door "community of sojourners" whose Sunday worship's become a popular destination for Urbites seeking "nourishing and often innovative Liturgy."

Against the backdrop of frayed Vatican-Lambeth in the wake of last month's Anglicanorum Coetibus -- the canonical framework to receive Anglican groups petitioning entry into the Catholic fold -- the nod notably elevates a figure who enjoys the archbishop of Canterbury's "affectionate and admiring" esteem and trust; Rowan Williams conferred the Anglican Communion's Cross for distinguished service on Bolen earlier this year, and when the Anglican primate celebrated a pontifical Eucharist in Rome's Basilica of Santa Sabina (the traditional venue of the pontiff's Ash Wednesday liturgy) in late 2006, the bishop-elect proclaimed the Gospel.

In leading the 86,000-member church in central Saskatchewan, Bolen succeeds now-Archbishop Albert LeGatt, who was promoted to Manitoba's Saint-Boniface archdiocese last July.

PHOTOS: Amie Dworecki/Cincinnati Enquirer(1); Jim Noelker/Hamilton Journal-News(2); Caravita Community(3)