Our first auxiliary, my first episcopal ordination

Our Diocese of San Jose is getting its first auxiliary bishop in this, our 30th anniversary as a diocese. It will be my first ordination of a bishop I will prepare…or witness! The planning process with a small team of people–of clergy, seminarians, and lay persons–has been an interesting one. Having never done this before, I immediately went to the rite and read not only the rite itself but also the praenotanda (both the general introduction to ordinations and the one for the ordination of a bishop), and started planning from there. I also re-read parts of the Ceremonial of Bishops as well as Sharon McMillan’s excellent resource, Episcopal Ordination and Ecclesial Consensus. But along the way, I learned of various “customs” that supposedly happen at every bishop ordination. So it was a good exercise in learning to “start from the beginning” and follow the rite, while appropriately and intelligently incorporating any adaptations and traditions in order to attend to the needs and characteristics of the assembly that will gather, but also knowing when to give in and when to stand one’s ground.

I’d be happy to share our scripts with anyone who’s in the same boat as I was. Just let me know.

If you’re interested, here are our worship aids. The first is for the Vespers last night at which the Bishop-Elect made his profession of faith and took the oath of fidelity (someone please let me know if there’s a liturgical rite for this in any of the books somewhere; I didn’t find one). I love the text we used for the Ephesians canticle (assigned for the Common of Apostles), which I found at the Archdiocese of Glasgow liturgical music website. The other link is to the worship aid for the Ordination Mass this Wednesday. The Mass will be livestreamed also. Please be gentle, and please pray for our diocese and our bishops.


  1. I am sure your liturgy is wonderful and best wishes to the diocese and new bishop.
    I have a query though as to the role of an auxillary bishop. Is it not the role of the priest to carry out all his priestly functions on behalf of the bishop? If so why an auxillary, does it make theological sense? Maybe I have it wrong.

    1. In very large Diocese’ there is an auxiliiary to assist the Bishop with such necessary functions as Confirmations and other things which can only (or should only) be done by the Bishop. In some very large Archdiocese’, there are several auxilliaries, each assigned to a specific Deanery. As an example, when I served in the Archdiocese of Boston, there were nearly 300 parishes… so even if some parishes had no confirmations (unlikely in the Northeast) or somehow combined parishes together for that purpose (unlikely), the Bishop could easily be celebrating 2 confirmations every 3 days. If you black out the season of Lent and concede that confirmations are not generally done during the Summer, that quickly becomes one or even two confirmations a day… you get the picture now I suppose…

      The role of the auxilliary is more practical than for any “theological” reason. Also, as in the case of the Diocese I now work for, an auxilliary is assigned a year or two before the current Bishop retires as a transition. In such cases they are called “Coadjutor” Bishops… I think the two are juridicially the same but differ in their role. I could be wrong about that (I’m not a canon lawyer).

      1. I don’t think there is a theological reason for why auxiliary bishops are preferable to additional dioceses. Confirmation could be done by the parish priest (as happens for the RCIA candidates), but realistically, confirmation is pretty much the only time the people of a parish will encounter a bishop. So much for the bishop as a “spiritual father” to the people of his diocese.

        If we wanted bishops to actually be in contact with the people of their diocese, then we’d probably have to reduce dioceses to the size of deaneries in large cities, or possibly even smaller. In a place like New York City, each borough would be too large to be its own diocese, so you’d have to subdivide them even smaller. The island of Manhattan would probably have dioceses like the Diocese of the Upper West Side, the Diocese of SoHo, and the Diocese of Greenwich Village.

        Why doesn’t this happen? It probably seems too ridiculous to some. Large dioceses do have certain bureaucratic/administrative advantages. Perhaps some like having the bishop be an out-of-touch distant ruler. If you had smaller dioceses, you’d double or triple the number of bishops in the U.S. overnight; this would probably require actual consultation with the laity.

      2. I find the development of auxiliary bishops as an idea whose time would best be seen as passing, except where distances are vast while population is thin. Auxiliary bishops seem nowadays to have become a layer of administration that obscures accountability.

        Roll up administrative functions to the provincial level (or even regional level) for administrative savings as need be, and use deaneries/vicariates well, but chop up dioceses to sizes that be effectively governed by a single ordinary without additional bishops.

        And put a significant chill on episcopal transfers out of a province while we’re at it.

  2. I’m happy that the worship aid attempts to be clear about the liturgical theology of the episcopate listing principal ordaining bishop and co-ordaining bishops. Too many times, even now, we hear references to consecration, consecrator and co-consecrator (like the current Wikipedia article on the topic), some still live in the world of the obex apparently. And who knows what it means to live in a Rite with two rituals for ordination with two different operative theologies of ordination!?

      1. Yes, it would seem to me that it is retained for historical reasons as a linguistic concession and rather muddles the attempt at clarity regarding episcopal ordination that has emerged over the last centuries, especially in the most recent liturgical renewal.

      2. Consecrate and consecrator was language used in the 1968 Ordination Rite, in the second typical edition the language was changed to ordain and principal ordaining bishop. A look at the new American Ordination Rite will use those terms. When the Ceremonial of Bishops was first published back in 1984, with the English version following in 1989, the new Ordination Rite had not yet been issued. The relevant sections of the Ceremonial of Bishops have been revised in the Latin. The revisions can be found in the 1991 edition of Notitiae. We just need to wait until the CB is retranslated.

  3. J. Thomas :

    I’m happy that the worship aid attempts to be clear about the liturgical theology of the episcopate listing principal ordaining bishop and co-ordaining bishops. Too many times, even now, we hear references to consecration, consecrator and co-consecrator (like the current Wikipedia article on the topic), some still live in the world of the obex apparently. And who knows what it means to live in a Rite with two rituals for ordination with two different operative theologies of ordination!?

    “obex” ???

    1. Generally, the medieval conception of ordination did not distinguish between presbyter and episcopas. At ordination the presbyter received the fullness of “priesthood” (which the patristic, orthodox and modern Roman church sees as inhering in the bishop alone) except for the power of jurisdiction, a juridical/canonical additive by the bishop of Rome. Thus an obex “baring, sealing” was placed upon the “powers” of the presbyter and removed through episcopal consecration with the addition of jurisdiction meaning nothing essentially sacramental was added in the consecration. This would seem to be one of the reasons why liturgical and canonical texts referred to consecration from the middle ages to recent times rather than ordination and why I think such language is still problematic for an accurate theology of sacramental ministries.

      1. I always thought we starting used “ordination” because people kept thinking we were saying “concentration of bishops,” and thought it sounded violent.

  4. Which documents use “ordain” and which use “consecrate” for bishops?

    Where the documents written in quite different times by notably different people?

    Which came first?

    1. You might want to check out Chapter 3 “The Sacramentality of Episcopal Consecration” of Susan Wood’s Book _Sacramental Orders_ (Lit Press, 2000)
      for a history of this. A substantial portion is available on Google Books, though its a good book to have.

  5. As our dear old friend Professor Rindfleisch once told us, during a marathon dinner at that little place on the Borgo Pio, ‘whether ordained or consecrated, as Ordinary, Coadjutor, Auxiliary, Titular or Emeritus, every bishop wears the “zucchetto” (literally the “little pumpkin”) or skull cap, which should cost next to nothing, for that is, without exception, where it is worn.’

    1. At that same little place, that same old codger told us before one of the faculty was ordained a bishop: “If you’ve never been to an episcopal ordination before, there’s one part of the ceremony where the deacons holding the gospel book over the new bishop’s head step back a little, obstructing the congregation’s view. That’s so the people can’t see the co-consecrators removing the new bishop’s spine.” Later, when we told him no such “obstruction” had taken place, he said (it was his colleague being ordained): “Oh I had forgotten it was Frank’s ordination. That spine would have been so hard to find, they must have decided to do it privately before using that special rite, ‘Removal of a New Bishop’s Spine in the Absence of a Congregation.'” Frank stood all of 5’ 1″ so XR suggested the seminary choir greet him on his return with “Ecce Sacerdos Parvus” or, as it was Eastertime, “Regina Coeli.” I remember we were practicing the old Lucien Deiss thing, “This Is The Day the Lord Has Made,” and – as Frank’s uncle was an Archbishop back in the States (dead for years now, but then reigning gloriously), he suggested changing the words to “This is the day your uncle made, alleluia, alleluia …”

      Ah, Rome in those golden days!

  6. On the subject of Auxiliary Bishops, there’s a wonderful story about the then Boston Archbishop Richard Cushing, who, when someone suggested he should give more work to his auxiliary bishops, replied

    “I got three auxiliaries. One likes booze, one likes broads, one likes boys. I still end up doin’ all the woik.”

  7. Our bishop has made it clear that, in accepting his role as bishop, he envisioned having two auxilaries and did everything in his power to pull this off.

    There is an internal “game” in which bishops, archbishops, cardinals vie for influence, power, and measure themselves by the diocese they command, by how many auxilaries they have, etc. Our bishop made no secret that he was copying the template of Washington,DC which had auxilaries.

    We are a diocese that is rapidly expanding, has a limited number of pastors and priests, and, in getting two auxilaries the bishop had to leave them as pastors.

    Would agree with some of the statements above – they are not needed. Pastors can easily do whatever an auxiliary does; it increases diocesan layers of command, paperwork, etc. Our bishop now delegates most all sacraments to the auxilaries – he winds up traveling, fundraising, and committing to extraneous jobs from USCCB, Rome, etc. It means that we rarely, if ever, see our actual bishop which makes no sense when you live in a diocese that is 100/50 miles.

    If you ever read retired archbishop Quinn’s book about the hierarchy, curia, bishops – he makes some very valid points that we need to return to the early church notion of one bishop who serves the diocese for life. This would go a long way at decreasing careerism, ambition, etc.

    1. “Pastors can easily do whatever an auxiliary does; it increases diocesan layers of command, paperwork, etc.”

      But the jewellery, Bill, the jewellery . . .

      1. but isn’t Rome trying to get the bishops to give up
        those gaudy cocktail rings, a la Bulgari, for the
        simple gold bands with a signet, i.e. the rings given
        to the cardinals?

  8. Cardinal Ratzinger railed against the notion that bishops would look for promotion to more influential dioceses. He said something about the ring being similar to the wedding ring in its significance – for life. Or until a bigger and better offer beckons.

    The ring symbolism is more honoured in the breach than in th’observance.

    Sounds as if careerism is alive and well.

    1. Oh that’s nice.


      Tell us, Gerard, when Cardinal Ratzinger said this “about the ring being similar to the wedding ring in its significance – for life” was it while he was Archishop of Munich, or later, as Cardinal Priest of S. Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino, or as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, or later still, as Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni, or later yet, as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, or later again, as Dean of the College of Cardinals, or still later, as Bishop of Rome?

    1. When Bernard Law was promoted to Boston, Pio Laghi was heard to remark “…after Boston, there is only Heaven”, a classic Roman way to alert Law that Rome was very aware of his ambition to get to Rome in between. Sadly, Law found a way to get to Rome after all.

      1. Neither the subject of your comment, Karl, nor that of Gerard’s, should be too cock-sure that Heaven will be next.

      2. Chris

        Well, nor can any of us for ourselves, of course. We’re not Baptists….

    2. There’s only one place he can go after Rome!!!
      For some, Sardinia, Mauritius, or St. Helena come to mind.

  9. Thank you for sharing your process and worship aids, Diana. All my prayers from your neighbor to the north for a beautiful, snafu-free liturgy tomorrow.

    Two items of particular interest that I saw here:

    1. The use of the Te Deum coupled with Toolan’s “Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever”. I want to hear how that will be done. Also, singing a Te Deum based text for gathering in addition to its traditional placement as the newly ordained blesses the people … I’ll have two Te Deum’s, please!

    2. I realized a couple of years ago that the text of the Veni Creátor Spíritus in the GIA hymnals (also the version to be sung in the SJ Diocese’s liturgy) is different than that in the Graduale. Here are the variations:

    Verse 2, line 2:

    GIA Worship3
    Qui díceris Paráclitus, / Altíssimi dónum Dei, /
    Fons vivus, ignis, cáritas, / Et spiritális únctio.

    Qui díceris Paráclitus, / donum Dei altíssimi, /
    fons vivus, ignis, cáritas / et spiritális únctio.

    Also, verse 3, line 2:

    GIA Worship3
    Tu septifórmis múnere, / Digitus patérnae déxterae, /
    tu rite promíssum Patris, / Sermóne ditans gúttura.

    Tu septifórmis múnere, / dextrae Dei tu dígitus, /
    tu rite promíssum Patris / sermóne ditans gúttura.

    Finally, verse 6, 3rd line:

    GIA Worship3:
    Per te sciámus da Patrem, / Noscámus atque Fílium / Teque utriúsque Spíritum / Credámus omni témpore.

    Per te sciámus da Patrem / noscámus atque Fílium, /
    te utriúsque Spíritum / credámus omni témpore.

    I can only guess that the W3 edit in verse 3 was to create a rhyme at the end of the line, but it made for the odd placement of “digitus” at the beginning of the line. The W3 edits in verses 2 and 6 are a mystery to me. I wonder what will be in Worship 4?

  10. Pat, Graduale is “wrong” in the sense that it uses a modern updated version from the Liber Hymnarius, whereas W3 uses the traditional text as it has appeared in the Liber Usualis, Vesperale, etc, for many years. All priests that I know of were brought up in seminary on LU, not the more recent version, however scholarly it may claim to be, so LU/W3 would be the one to go with.

    Samuel, for ordaining instead of consecration, take a look at the Roman Pontifical.

    1. Paul, I think LH would be the way to go since it’s more recent. There are criticisms of the hymns in the revised Latin LoH and LH, especially from traditionalists (not you), that Lenti took a heavy hand to texts and added so many of his own. Be that as it may, LH is the most recent. I gather your point is pastoral – what’s well known?
      Sing to the Lord says that LH should be the standard – including melodies of hymns such as Veni Creator – I’m curious whether W4 will follow that! Or if the BCDW will be picky about it.
      It’s certainly not new with Vatican II that they ‘messed up’ the familiar chants. When 1908 Graduale came, it was a HUGE change compared to the Medici edition. Some monks here still hadn’t accepted it as late as the 1950s, I’m told. 1934 Antiphonale Monasticum also was aggressive in ‘correcting’ melodies – eg B natural at beginning of Ave Maria. I thought I was being a young radical when I brought that corrected melody back from Europe, since it’s not what’s in any hymnals. I was surprised that there wasn’t a bigger reaction, adverse or otherwise, to the B natural. Then I found out that the monks had sung that already from 1934 on. I realize that the rest of the Church was still singing B flat from 1912 Antiphonale Monasticum.
      At least in the US, there’s not justification for using a form of chant hymn text or melody except what’s in LH. If, that is, you follow Sing to the Lord.
      Of course, there are some who think about Sttl that… oh, never mind.

  11. I was happy to see the Tagalog setting of the Agnus Dei that Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, composed at the turn of the century and with which I am very familiar as it is sung often in churches here in Manila. I am glad that it will be included in this very solemn event.

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