MILWAUKEE — The two-hour Mass of Installation of Milwaukee’s new archbishop Monday, Jan. 4, included long-standing traditions, rituals and rich symbols of the Catholic Church.
Included in the 1,000-member congregation were an estimated 40 bishops and four cardinals as well as representatives from the four major local television stations.
While each of the news stations devoted hours to the same event, only Channels 4 and 12 provided live coverage, with Channels 6 and 58 giving minimal time on their evening news broadcasts or live streaming video feed on their Web sites.
Beginning at 1 p.m., Channel 4 offered the most coverage and commentary, opting to broadcast the pre-installation celebration and did not return to regular programming until after Archbishop Listecki’s press conference, which ended at 4:30 p.m.
Channel 12, which provided the pool coverage of the entire three and a half hours, only broadcast the installation Mass with commentary. All four stations utilized the WISN-TV 12 telecast.
Among the highlights from the local telecasts:
Joining Susan Kim and Vince Vitrano was Fr. Frank “Rocky” Hoffman, chaplain of Northridge Preparatory School in Chicago, and a frequent voice on Relevant Radio. The tone of the day was festive and majestic, according to Fr. Hoffman, but he reminded the audience that the installation was not about people, it was about God.
“This is a day when we give praise to God, we worship and honor him and thank him for his indulgence in giving us this new archbishop,” he said. “As Catholics we can expect to get to know Archbishop Listecki and will notice that he is one who will encourage us all to work together.”
Citing the massive financial reorganization the bishop undertook in the La Crosse Diocese, Fr. Hoffman said that Archbishop Listecki is a dedicated man of the church, and will do his job effectively by inspiring others to take charge.
“He is not a steam roller, but has general principles and will encourage others to follow those administrative challenges,” he said.
When Kim brought up the much-discussed topic of the sexual abuse scandal, Fr. Hoffman said he was encouraged by the archbishop’s extensive legal background.
“We have the benefit of his experience in civil and canon law, as well as his experience in dealing with issues of moral theology,” he said. “Not only does he have a real knowledge of the law, he is a man of faith.”
While nationwide, the Catholic Church struggles with a shortage of priests, the Diocese of La Crosse brought in a record number of priests under then-Bishop Listecki’s shepherding.
“The Diocese of La Crosse is only a third the size of Milwaukee,” said Fr. Hoffman, “Yet they brought in a record number up there and have the largest number of seminarians. This (arch)diocese is in great need of priests – we have had to consolidate many parishes, and while we are all attached to the same church, we could use a few more here. God continues to call and we need to pray that our young men will listen and will lay down everything to serve God. If you don’t ask, you don’t sow a lot of seeds.”
On the phone was Whispers of the Loggia blogger, Rocco Palma, who, among other things, discussed the archbishop’s coat of arms and the history behind the 150-year-old tradition that began with Archbishop John Martin Henni.
“The coat of arms is a combination of the archdiocese and that of the new archbishop,” explained Palma. “Each archbishop gets to add a personal note, and for Archbishop Listecki his motto is “Life is Christ,” and the design includes colors of the Polish flag, honoring his ethnic heritage and pride in being the first (Milwaukee) archbishop of Polish descent.”
The design also includes an open book, attributed to the translation of the sacred Scriptures into Latin by the archbishop’s baptismal patron, St. Jerome, as well as the archbishop’s many years of ministry in seminary education, and his role as a civil lawyer and canon lawyer.
“In early years, the coat of arms was an identifier to the people who were often unable to read,” said Palma. “One interesting note is that the coat of arms is on the chair (cathedra) rather than on the large tapestry above the chair that Archbishop Dolan had. I think this is symbolic of the fact that Archbishop Listecki is more low-key than Dolan.”
After Archbishop Listecki’s homily, Kim asked Palma why the pope picked him for the role as shepherd of Milwaukee.
“It comes down to the pope and his confidence,” said Palma. “Why did he think Listecki would be a good fit in southeast Wisconsin? He looks for the best person to take on the job, one who can handle all the challenges such as the greater ones here with the sexual abuse. He needed someone of eminent caliber and a top-notch administrator. He is all of those things, but yet, quite modest.”
Noting that life for the 11th archbishop now overseeing 210 parishes will be quite a change, for the former bishop who did his own cooking and cleaning, Palma said it will take a while before Archbishop Listecki adjusts to the lack of privacy.
“He is already missing the privacy of La Crosse,” said Palma. “He is not a man comfortable with all the trappings as he was quite independent and took care of himself.”
Despite the obvious changes, Fr. Hoffman stated that Archbishop Listecki would rise to the challenge and accomplish all that God wants him to do.
“He is quite amazing,” said Fr. Hoffman “He takes his time with people, God has blessed him with strength and he is an effective leader among all sorts of people. He builds unity creates team work and has the ability to organize the entire body of Christ.”
Offering commentary during the lengthy procession, Franciscan Fr. Jim Jankowski, pastor of the Basilica of St. Josephat, explained the ceremony and Mass to Catholic and non-Catholic viewers and commented on Archbishop Listecki’s homily.
“It struck me that the archbishop mentioned that it is important to teach the truth, but not to do so in a militant manner because that can turn people away from the Lord; love is the key,” he said. “The other thing he talked about was the great renewal of church in the millennium, bringing more meaning to the sacraments of reconciliation, mercy and eucharistic sacrificial love. The diocese will soon be celebrating a season of mercy and forgiveness, and we become merciful to others by being able to forgive. We need to move ahead in love of Christ. We are called to forgiveness and the way to proclaim our lives is by forgiveness to others.”
After the papal nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, read Pope Benedict XVI’s letter appointing Jerome Listecki as archbishop of Milwaukee, he was led to the marble cathedra and received the crosier.
The papal nuncio is the permanent representative of the pope said William Thorn, associate professor of journalism, Marquette University.
“He is here as an ambassador and has a strong hand in the selection of future bishops,” he said, adding, “He has a diplomatic and duel function and scouts out young clergy to make into auxiliary bishops to see how they handle the role and pressures.”
As the gifts were brought forward during the offertory, Fr. Jankowski explained the unity in Christ to become what we receive in holy Communion.
“We receive the body, blood, soul and divinity and that is what we are to become,” he said. “The wheat dies to become flour to become bread and then ceases to become bread to become the body of Christ. It is the same with the wine. The grapes are willing to be crushed and die to become wine that ceases to be wine and become the blood of Christ. We united our voices in hymns and emphasize our unity as the Body of Christ here as a community to die to ourselves to become Christ.”
WDJT-TV Channel 58
Humor mixed with humility is how reporter Mike Strehlow described Archbishop Listecki’s homily and closing comments.
“The energy was high as representatives from (210) local parishes attended the invitation-only event and they were all delighted to see that their new archbishop carries a similar sense of humor as Archbishop Dolan,” he said. “I asked Archbishop Listecki about the controversy surrounding the sex scandals and Archbishop Weakland’s troubles in the past. He said that he (Archbishop Weakland) served the church a long time and had made mistakes, but we need to analyze history and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes.”
WITI-TV Channel 6
Reporter Jeremy Ross discussed the archbishop’s press conference and declining attendance at Mass.
“The archbishop said he felt that people were not staying home because of the scandal, but because they are moving away from God, like a trend,” he said. “He did address the scandal and said he would do his best to avoid this. While the responsibilities were sinking in and feeling a bit heavy on his shoulders, he hopes he can rise to the occasion.”
In his press conference, Archbishop Listecki outlined three top priorities as he begins his new role.
If you poll most bishops, said the archbishop, three priorities will likely emerge. “Schools, personnel and finances and, of course, they all dovetail to holiness and commitment,” said Archbishop Listecki.
Citing frequent comments that the archbishop has “big shoes to fill,” Channel 4 reporter Charles Benson spoke with Archbishop Dolan who expected that once the people get to know Archbishop Listecki that everyone will like him.
“He is a respected teacher, remarkable, intelligent and holy man and one who won’t have trouble at the fish fry,” said Archbishop Dolan.