Archbishop Alexander Sample blesses parishioners in Nadeau, Mich. last year.
If we fail to attend or watch the webcast of the installation of Archbishop Alexander Sample on April 2, we Catholics of western Oregon will miss an extraordinary moment.
When the People of God assemble, united with their bishop at the Eucharist, they are linked to God in a special way. It’s a moment of fullness.
Here’s why: God sent Christ. Christ sent the Twelve and other apostles to keep announcing that God’s rule is at hand. The apostles chose worthy leaders to succeed them. Very early in the history of the church, there developed “overseers” or bishops. For us Catholics, our bishops are our link with the divine.
“He who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ,” said the Second Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium.
Bishops are not simply the pope’s vice presidents, overseeing subsidiaries of a bigger company headquartered at the Vatican. It doesn’t work that way. Sure, they are united in the college of bishops with the pope as their head, but bishops also indisputably lead their dioceses, in which the Church of Christ is truly present.
We should show up or watch on April 2 because of the ways in which we can encounter God made manifest. There before us will be the holy Eucharist, first and foremost. In addition, our new archbishop will be with us for the first time, a charismatic and loving shepherd coming as successor to the apostles.
Lastly, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our many brothers and sisters from all corners of our archdiocese. Together, we are the holy People of God, ready for the divine encounter and ready to be sent forth to proclaim what a God we have.