Today I want to write in simple acknowledgement of the upcoming ordination of the 10th bishop for our diocese that will take place this Thursday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary at 11:00 am. While it is a definite difficulty and disappointment that this ordination cannot be open to the public due to all of the continuing COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place now for many months, this moment in our local Church is one that we can all still celebrate, giving thanks to Almighty God and praying that our new bishop will be a true shepherd after the heart of Jesus Christ.
The ordination Mass itself will be available over the internet via YouTube and Facebook livestream on Thursday at 11:00am. For access to these links, simply go to www.dioceseduluth.org where the links will be found on the homepage (I will set up a link from the homepage of our website, www.stbensduluth.org, that will go to the diocese’s homepage as well, as another means to access).
As Bishop-elect Felton is ordained for our diocese, we share in a moment that very clearly connects us to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the Church throughout the world, and to the apostles, as bishops are the direct successors of the apostles. In the ordination of a bishop, there is the reading and presentation of an “apostolic mandate” that must be given, expressing that it is by the will of the pope that the man to be ordained has been chosen for the particular diocese which he is to lead. Thus, after the Gospel is proclaimed, there will be an exchange between one of our diocesan priests and the principal ordaining bishop, where it is to be asked that Daniel Felton be ordained as Bishop of Duluth, and that an apostolic mandate which appoints Fr. Felton as our bishop be publicly read and recorded. The mandate itself will be read and presented to us by the pope’s own representative, known as the “apostolic nuncio,” who will both read the official mandate and likely add some personal words of congratulations to our diocese on behalf of the Holy Father and the Holy See. In this way our celebration on May 20 right here in Duluth, Minnesota will be a manifestation of the universality of the Church, founded upon the apostles, and how we are one with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
In addition to this formal moment within the ordination rite, several visible signs will point to the significance of our local Church being connected to the Church throughout the world. One very visible element will be the number of bishops from other dioceses who will come – most notably the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, (who as our “metropolitan” archbishop rightfully is the principal ordaining bishop – and who also is entrusted with some oversight of other dioceses in his region [within very particular limits]). With him will be two “co-ordaining” bishops, who are selected by the bishop-elect insuring that at least three bishops are present to “lay hands” on him in ordaining him. In the case of Bishop-elect Felton, his two co-ordaining bishops are Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay (Bishop-elect Felton’s home diocese); and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield Illinois – who is said to be a friend of our bishop-elect. Finally, there will be other bishops from around our region and priests both from our diocese and other dioceses that come to participate in this ordination.
As we receive our new bishop this Thursday, I ask that you pray for him as he is ordained, and that his acceptance of this call will bear great fruit both in his own life and in his shepherding of the diocese. May this be a day of abundant graces in the Lord.