Tuesday, November 05, 2013

In Newark, It's Election Day

Your Grace-to-Be, welcome to Jersey... Archbishop Bernie, welcome home.

Greetings from Newark and the calm before this afternoon's Welcome Mass, where four cardinals, some 40 high-hats, 250 priests and a capacity crowd will fill "one of the most beautiful churches in Christendom" – declared a basilica on the spot by St John Paul II – to receive the next head of the 1.4 million-member lead see of this Garden State, American Catholicism's seventh-largest diocese.

Slated for a 2pm local start, unfortunately, the rites will neither be televised nor webstreamed. Given that lack, when you've listed "Four to Watch," well, they actually have to be watched, so here we are.

On a logistical note, one standard element of installation liturgies will be conspicuous by its absence: as New Jersey is one of just two states (along with Virginia) which elect its governor and Legislature in the year following the Presidential vote, the usual horde of public officials won't be on hand due to Election Day. With Republican Gov. Chris Christie  widely expected to romp to a second term – and all eyes already looking toward a 2016 run for the GOP nomination – the native son and the rest of the political crowd will instead meet the new coadjutor at Thursday's Newark "Blue Mass" (the annual rite dedicated to law enforcement personnel) in the 
Cathedral-Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Indicated from the get-go as the "first truly 'Francis appointment'" to the Stateside bench's top rank, the thread has duly begun to bear itself out. Amid an already rapturous rollout from a long-hostile local press, now it can be told that – in keeping with the emblematic call of the Pope who sent him here – the new arrival spent the weekend settling into his new digs at Xavier Hall, an undergrad dorm at the archdiocesan-owned Seton Hall University, taking his place among the team of priest-advisers in residence. (As an informal launch of his North Jersey ministry, Hebda celebrated Seton Hall's 10pm students' Mass on Sunday, reportedly to memorable effect.)

Of course, that's not the kind of thing you'd see in the Star-Ledger... ergo, more in the main and on Page Three (along your right sidebar) as the day wends on.