Wenski describes call to be a bishop as 'a dying to self'
Catholic News Service photo
Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski blesses Bishop Peter Baldacchino during his March 19 ordination as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami at St. Mary's Cathedral. Bishop Baldacchino, a Malta native and a priest of the Newark, N.J., Archdioces e, was chancellor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a juridical mission of the New Jersey archdiocese.
Catholic News Service
MIAMI — The call to the episcopacy "is a complete abandonment to the mystery of the cross -- to the mystery of love," said Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski in his homily at the ordination Mass March 19 for Miami's new auxiliary, Bishop Peter Baldacchino.
"It is a dying to self," the archbishop said. "As Pope Francis says, 'The courage to die, and the generosity to offer his life and to expend himself for the flock, are inscribed in the DNA of the bishop. Renunciation and sacrifice are connatural with the mission of the bishop.'"
Archbishop Wenski was the principal celebrant and principal consecrating bishop at the Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Miami.
Joining with him in laying hands on the new bishop were Archbishops Patrick Pinder of Nassau, Bahamas, and Charles H. Dufour of Kingston in Jamaica, the bishops of Florida and bishops from New Jersey and elsewhere in the country.
Bishop Baldacchino, 53, the first auxiliary for the archdiocese in about three years, is a native of Malta who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.
At the time of his February appointment as auxiliary bishop, he was chancellor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a post he had held since 1999. The chain of islands, about 90 miles north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is a juridical mission of the New Jersey archdiocese.
Members of the new bishop's family traveled from Malta to Miami for the ordination, including his brother, John, and his wife, Maria, and several nieces. Other family members, including Bishop Baldacchino's elderly father, watched the Mass via live-streaming coverage on the Internet. The congregation at the Miami cathedral included Catholics from Turks and Caicos and from Newark. Many who were unable to attend also watched live-streaming of the Mass.
"For each of us bishops, the call to the episcopacy -- like the call to the priesthood itself -- was a humbling and overwhelming experience -- for each of us is keenly aware of our own unworthiness," Archbishop Wenski said in his homily.
Acknowledging the ordination Mass was being celebrated on the feast of St. Joseph, he remarked that when God chose the saint to "'substitute' for himself when the Word became flesh to dwell among us ... Joseph fulfilled God's plan -- even when that plan eluded human understanding."
"He lived his life with steadfast faith in Providence. As every bishop is a vicar of Christ, we do well then to invoke the intercession of St. Joseph, patron of the universal church," Archbishop Wenski said.
In being ordained a bishop, Miami's new auxiliary "also gives his 'yes' to God's plan for himself and for this local church. Like St. Joseph, Bishop Baldacchino must also accept this calling which will change his life forever with that same steadfast faith."
He told the soon-to-be-ordained bishop not to worry if he was asking himself, "How did this happen? How was it that I became a bishop?"
"Like St. Joseph did, put your trust in God," Archbishop Wenski said. "Besides, in a few years, you will look around at your brother bishops and be tempted to ask: How in the world did they become bishops?"
He quoted some recent remarks by Pope Francis about the qualities any candidate for bishop should have.
"Pope Francis recently cited as common characteristics required of a bishop 'professionalism, service and holiness,'" the archbishop said. "But, more importantly, he (the pope) said that, just as when the original apostles set out to replace Judas, they agreed that the next apostle be a witness to the Resurrection, a bishop must know how to be a witness of Jesus' Resurrection."
Quoting the pope, he said: "The bishop is first and foremost a martyr for the Risen One. ... His life and ministry must make the Resurrection credible. In becoming one with Christ in the cross of the true gift of himself, he makes the life that never dies flow forth for his church."
Archbishop Wenski also quoted Blessed John Paul II, who said a bishop is to be "the prophet, witness and servant of hope."
In his remarks later in the Mass, Bishop Baldacchino thanked Pope Francis for his appointment to Miami and expressed gratitude to Archbishop Wenski and the Miami Archdiocese as a whole for welcoming him so warmly to his new role as "a shepherd for God's people" in South Florida.
He said the presence of so many from Malta, the Newark Archdiocese, and Turks and Caicos "is for me the best expression of gratitude to the church."
"It is wondrous how, in announcing the Gospel, the Lord has brought us together," Bishop Baldacchino continued. "This great sign of unity that we live both confirms us in our faith and compels us to share that faith with others.
"God is beginning a new chapter in the building up of his kingdom, and together, with courage, we say, 'Yes! con valor, decimos si' to his divine will and to every grace."