Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Archbishop Jerome Listecki Installed Yesterday in Milwaukee

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In his first remarks as archbishop Monday, the Most Rev. Jerome E. Listecki called on Milwaukee-area Catholics to reject secularism and recommit themselves with him in devotion to Jesus Christ and service to the Catholic Church.

"We must present a clear alternative to the established secular religion which permeates our daily lives," Listecki told the crowd of about 1,000 clergy, family, friends and well-wishers during his installation Mass at Milwaukee's Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

"We need to acknowledge mystery and our dependence upon God," Listecki said. "Adherence to the church's teaching is not always easy. However, one must sacrifice for the truth."

Listecki, 60, was installed Monday as the 11th archbishop of Milwaukee in a centuries-old rite that drew church leaders from around the country, including Cardinals Francis George of Chicago and Edward Egan of New York.

Listecki was named in November by Pope Benedict XVI to succeed Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan as the spiritual leader of southeastern Wisconsin's nearly 650,000 Roman Catholics. Dolan, who left in April to become archbishop of New York, was among those who concelebrated the Mass alongside Listecki on Monday.

Before the service, Dolan called Listecki erudite, "but as down to earth as he can be."

"You guys are really going to learn to like him," Dolan said.

Listecki's installation began Sunday evening with a solemn prayer service known as Vespers. In keeping with tradition, he was welcomed into this new home after rapping three times with a silver hammer on the cathedral's doors.

Listecki returned to the church Monday, entering its cavernous nave in a procession of bishops, abbots, cardinals and other church dignitaries, the air clouded at times by wafting incense.

The moment of succession occurred early in the Mass when Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio, or papal ambassador to the United States, read the pope's letter appointing Listecki to the Milwaukee see, and then led Listecki to the cathedra, the imposing marble seat at the center of the church. There, in a highly scripted ritual, Sambi presented Listecki with the crosier, the bishop's staff adorned with the image of Mary, mother of Jesus, that was first carried by Milwaukee Archbishop Frederick X. Katzer a century ago.

Multicultural welcome

Sunday's Vespers and Monday's liturgy reflected Catholics' traditional devotion to Mary, Listecki's heritage - he is Milwaukee's first Polish archbishop - and the multicultural fabric of the Catholic Church in the 21st century.

The haunting chants of American Indian drummers from the Congregation of the Great Spirit echoed through the cathedral Sunday night, with Listecki and other bishops hovering in the back to catch a glimpse of the drummers before his grand entrance.

And on Sunday, Listecki stood on the steps of the cathedral, his black cape billowing in the wind, to thank a group from the predominantly Hispanic St. Adalbert's Parish that welcomed him in song.

Monday's Mass included readings in Korean and Polish, and Listecki offered words of welcome and solidarity in Spanish and Polish.

The new archbishop, who described the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as a "mosaic of cultural diversity," received an array of cultural gifts from representatives of the church's many ethnic communities: a basket of wheat and grains and a copy of the Ge'ez Rite liturgy, the oldest Christian tradition in sub-Saharan Africa; a Hmong pa ndau tapestry; and an Indian oil lamp, just to name a few.

Even the sacred music was selected in an effort to be inclusive, said Dean Daniels, director of the office of worship for the archdiocese.

"He clearly wanted music that people can sing to," Daniels said of Listecki. "He wanted people to be able to enter into the prayer fully."

In one of the most stirring musical moments, a couple led the church in a moving rendition of the responsorial psalm "Tu Vas Conmigo," or "The Lord is My Shepherd."

Civic and ecumenical leaders included Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Scott Walker; bishops of the Episcopal Diocese and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and the head of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.

Barrett said he looked forward to working with Listecki on civic issues. "I'm hoping it remains the positive, constructive relationship I've enjoyed with the archbishop in the past."

In his homily, Listecki appeared to acknowledge the clergy sex abuse scandal, saying, "As a church we have experienced the devastation of sin and its effect on us personally and as a community."

However, in a news conference after the Mass, he said he has not yet decided whether to meet with the Milwaukee chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a victims' advocacy group that has been critical of his handling of sex abuse cases in his previous assignment in La Crosse.

'We begin our dance'

A Chicago native and civil and canon lawyer, Listecki served nearly five years as bishop of La Crosse before coming to Milwaukee.

In his closing remarks, Listecki acknowledged Milwaukee's fondness for Dolan, saying the New York archbishop would always have a place in the Milwaukee archdiocese and the hearts of its people.

And he voiced hope for his own relationship with area Catholics, likening it to a season of "Dancing With the Stars," a favorite show of his sister, Penny.

"Today we begin our dance together," Listecki told the faithful. "I apologize if I tend to step on your toes. But I am confident we will grow in God's love, and our performance will witness His presence in southeastern Wisconsin." Mlwaukee Journal Sentinal

Archbishop Listecki's Homily at the Installation Mass

Rocco Sez: For those who missed any of it, local NBC affiliate WTMJ's got on-demand video of the archbishop's post-Mass press conference, the entire installation liturgy itself in one... two... parts... and, indeed, video of the former Boss' all-important conferral of the Timostolic Blessing on his successor.

Rocco Sed: Brewerland Word of the Day: "Witamy, Arcybiskup"

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