Thursday, August 19, 2010

ad multos annos

Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden
10th Bishop of Harrisburg

Yesterday, I attended the installation Mass of my new Bishop. It was a magnificent Mass, reverent, elegant and very Catholic. The sanctuary was completely full of bishops and eparchs from the Latin and Eastern Catholic churches. HUNDREDS of priests from the Diocese of Harrisburg and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia filled half the pews with another large showing of Deacons and consecrated religious. The other half of the cathedral held the family, friends and lay faithful. The sublime sacred liturgy was followed by a formal and exquisite supper at the Radisson Hotel. I saw several friends from the Archdiocese as well as newly consecrated Bishop David O'Connell, Coadjutor of Trenton, NJ, and seminary schoolmate Bishop William Skurla, Eparch of Passaic, NJ.

My mom watched the Mass on EWTN but had to spend part of the day at the doctor's office. She still needs your prayers for her heart and for her diabetes as both are serious conditions for her in addition to her chronic back pain.

Here is the Bishop's homily from his installation:

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever! It is with these words that I
greet you as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg and ask that you
pray for me that all that I do may be pleasing to the Lord and always be
directed as a work of praise to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am deeply grateful to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for his
confidence in appointing me as the tenth Bishop of Harrisburg. I have
assured him of my gratitude and promised him my loyalty, my prayers and
my support as he continues his work of leading the Church as the Vicar of

I say a special word of thanks today to Archbishop Sambi, the Papal
Nuncio to the United States, who is the representative of the Holy Father
and who honors us with his presence here this afternoon. Archbishop, I
thank you for the support you have given to me and continue to give to all
the Bishops of the United States and I am especially grateful that you have
taken the time to be with me and the Church in Harrisburg this afternoon. I
assure you that the people of Harrisburg will keep you in our prayers as you
continue the important work of representing the Holy Father in the United

I thank in a special way today Cardinal Rigali, the Metropolitan
Archbishop of Philadelphia who ordained me a Bishop, is presiding at this
installation ceremony and who I have been privileged to work with for the
past 6 years as his Auxiliary Bishop. Your Eminence you have been a
wonderful mentor and friend and have modeled what it means to be a good
shepherd for one’s flock. I am eternally grateful for all of your support
through the years and I look forward to working closely with you as my
Metropolitan Archbishop.

I am truly humbled by the presence of Cardinals Foley and Keeler, the
other Archbishops and Bishops who have come to join in this celebration and
all of the priests, deacons, consecrated men and women religious, family
and friends and wonderful people of the Diocese of Harrisburg who are with
us for this important moment in the life of the Church in Harrisburg.
I am privileged to celebrate this first Eucharist in this beautiful Cathedral
of St. Patrick and to share with you some thoughts on the word of God that
has been proclaimed in this liturgy. As you know the Eucharist is the center
point of our Catholic faith. Our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II in the last
letter that he wrote to the Church before he died entitled “Ecclesia de
Eucharistia” reminded us that we are the Church of the Eucharist. It is in the
Eucharist that we find our identity and our destiny. Our identity is the
privilege of being sons and daughters of God. It is in the Eucharist that Jesus
feeds us with His body and Blood so that He may live in us and we may live
in Him and truly be God’s people.

Our Holy Father pointed out that in the Eucharist all of space and time
are brought together. In the Eucharist we are transported back to that
moment in time when Jesus offered Himself on the cross for our sins and the
sins of the whole world. When we assist at the Eucharist we have the great
privilege of attaching ourselves to this unique sacrifice in such a way that we
now become part of the only acceptable sacrifice to God our Father and thus
are opened to communion and participation in the very life of God. In the
Eucharist Jesus continues to give us a share in His divine life so that we have
an eternal destiny and an eternal future. In feeding us with His body and
blood we are given the grace necessary to live the Christian life as God

I point this out this afternoon because I believe one of the challenges
that I must confront as a Bishop in the Church today is the diminished
appreciation of Catholics for the importance of the Sunday Eucharist in their
lives. St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, often remarked to
his people in Ars that if we truly understood the Eucharist and the great gift
that God was offering us we would not only seek it once a week but would
long for it constantly.

It is in the Eucharist that we see the fulfillment of the promise Jesus
made to His disciples when He ascended to the Father and assured them
that He would be with them and with His Church until the end of time. It is
important for all of us to understand that we do not have a God who is far
distant from us but one who is very close to us and who desires to live in us.
In doing so He calls us to help Him to build His kingdom. This is really the
task and work of the Church in Harrisburg. God calls us to be His people
here in this place at this time and this moment in history.

He asks us to not be afraid to live our lives based on the gospel values
that Jesus teaches us. So often in the Scripture Jesus says to the disciples
and to you and me today “Do not be afraid”. This is the message that I bring
as your new shepherd. Let us not be afraid to share our faith in the Lord
Jesus with all of the people of the 15 counties of the Diocese of Harrisburg.
Like St. Paul in his admonition to St. Timothy in our second reading for
today’s liturgy I ask that all of us stir into flame the gift God bestowed upon
us in our baptism. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that dwells in the hearts of
all believers allowing us to truly be God’s people. Paul points out that this
spirit is not a cowardly spirit but rather one that makes us strong, loving and

He also encourages us to be willing to bear our fair share of the
hardships that come with living out the gospel. This is often a difficult
message for us to hear and to understand because being a disciple of Jesus
does entail a willingness to take up our cross and follow Him. This does not
mean that we run around looking for hardships or crosses to bear. If we
truly live the gospel we will find more than enough to keep us occupied.
We are living in a culture that often rejects the fact that there is a God
who created us and who has established in His creation certain truths that
do not depend upon the will or the whim of the created. If we live by these
truths we will find opposition but we cannot deny these truths. One of these
is the right to life. We are a people who proclaim that God is the author of all
life human and divine. We must be a people that respect human life from the
moment of conception until natural death. We must not be timid about this
truth and we must do all in our power to help our brothers and sisters in the
world to grow in their appreciation of this truth.

We also live in a time when society would like to redefine the concept of
family and of the institution of marriage that finds its origin in God and was
established by God. It is God who willed that we be created male and female
and that the two should become one flesh. In doing so He established a set
purpose for our sexual faculties which are ordered to the intimate sharing of
our very being with the other opening to a participation in the creative
power of God in bringing about new life. To proclaim this truth today
requires courage and strength. In doing so we face the potential for rejection
just as the Lord Jesus encountered rejection in proclaiming the truth.
We must also be willing to follow the Lord in making reparation to God
for our own sins and the sins of others. We can do this through our prayers
and our good works. It is also important for us to recapture our appreciation
for the wonderful sacrament of reconciliation. This sacrament that has fallen
into disuse by so many of our people is a tragedy that needs to be corrected.
In the sacrament of reconciliation our God desires to draw us away from the
evil that is so detrimental to us and to restore us to the goodness that He
has placed within each of us. In this sacrament we must realize that the Lord
says to us what he said to the woman caught in adultery and was about to
be put to death. After writing in the sand it was only she and the Lord. The
Lord asked “is there no one here to condemn you”. She answered, “Only you
Lord”. Jesus said “I do not condemn you but go and sin no more”. What
wonderful words to hear. I do not condemn you but go and sin no more.
Why would we not want to hear these words for ourselves in the sacrament
of reconciliation? It is also important to understand that during our earthly
life Jesus is always our merciful savior generously offering his forgiveness
unconditionally for those who will acknowledge their sins. At the end of our
life when we pass through the doorway of death Jesus must become the just
judge when He must be true to Himself and meet out justice. It behooves us
to claim His mercy now especially by frequent use of the sacrament of

While we are speaking about sins and the mercy of God I do want to
address for a moment the terrible sin of clergy sexual abuse that has
occurred in the Church in recent years. To those who are victims especially
here in Harrisburg I express my deepest sympathy for what you have
endured. In the name of the Church I apologize for this terrible injustice that
was committed against you. The way that it was dealt with in the Church
was wrong and we are sorry. I assure you, the victims, that you have my
deepest love and concern and I will do all in my power to see that no such
tragedy occurs again in the Church. I do have an image that I want to
convey to you and it is the image of the Sorrowful Mother Mary holding her
battered and beaten Son after the terrible crucifixion that he underwent at
the hands of ruthless people. Though He was innocent He was defiled. Please
know I desire to hold you as Mary held her innocent son. I pray that in time
you will experience the Resurrection in your own life and that your wounds
will be healed.

In this liturgy we are using the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Image
and Mother of the Church. It is especially appropriate that during this Marian
Year in the Diocese that we should contemplate and look to Mary as the
model for our life and as the loving Mother that will journey with us as she
journeyed with her Son, Jesus throughout His life. As we heard in the Gospel
for this Mass it was Jesus who gave Mary to us as our mother. She is the
one who brought Jesus to the world and she is the one who continues to
direct us to her Son. She is a great intercessor for us and throughout the
course of my life I have been the beneficiary of her intercession and her help
more times than I can possibly count.

We also know that Mary is honored under the title of Our Lady of Hope.
She teaches us that we must always be a people of hope and always trust
that our loving God will sustain and accomplish His work in us if we will only
remain faithful to Him and to His promises. It is my prayer that we the
people of the Church in Harrisburg will always be a people full of hope. We
live in a world today where there are many individuals who have lost hope.
We know this because we see in the media stories of suicides, violence, drug
and alcohol abuse and so many other stories that can drain us of our zest for
life. There are many in our own area that suffer as a result of the economic
downturn and can despair that things will ever turn around or get better. I
want you to know that we are not abandoned or alone. The Lord is with us.
He will accomplish great things in us if we allow Him to work in and through
us. Let us be a sign of hope for all the people who live within the confines of
the Diocese of Harrisburg. May they see in us a bright light shining in the
darkness that will lead them as Mary did to the God who never fails us.
Finally my good people in the Diocese of Harrisburg, I ask you to pray for
me that I may be a good shepherd after the heart of Jesus. Pray that
together we may be good builders of the Kingdom of God here in Harrisburg.
Pray that we will have the courage to invite others to embrace our faith in
Jesus. Pray that I may be able to encourage those who have grown lax in
their faith to rediscover the great gift that God has given to us in His Son
Jesus and the great treasure that He has left us in the Eucharist. It is my
prayer that all of us will look to Mary as the model for our life and that Jesus
will always be at the center of all that we say and do.

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