Retired Auxiliary Bishop Roger W. Gries of Cleveland, co-consecrator, lays hands on Bishop Michael G. Woost during his Episcopal ordination as Auxiliary of Cleveland at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral on Aug. 4, 2022, as retired Bishop Martin J. Amos of Davenport, Iowa, left, and Cleveland Bishop Edward C. Malesic look on. Bishops Amos and Gries, both Cleveland natives, were the last two men ordained auxiliary bishops of Cleveland, both in 2001. Bishop Gries, a former Benedictine abbot, retired in 2013 and Bishop Amos retired in 2017. (CNS Photo/Carol Kovach, Northeastern Ohio Catholic)
CLEVELAND (CNS) — The ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Michael G. Woost was a historic event in the Diocese of Cleveland.
It was the first time in 21 years that a son of the diocese was ordained auxiliary bishop of the diocese. The last time was June 7, 2001, when Auxiliary Bishops Roger W. Gries and Martin J. Amos were ordained bishops.
This fact did not escape Bishop Woost. He asked the two, now retired, to be co-consecrators at his Aug. 4 ordination Mass at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. Bishop Gries retired in 2013 and Bishop Amos retired in 2017 after 11 years as Bishop of Davenport, Iowa.
Bishop of Cleveland Edward C. Malesic was the ordaining bishop.
After members of the presbyterium and other guests entered the cathedral, the soon-to-be-ordained bishop and his two brothers, diocesan priests from Cleveland, entered the church.
Father Dave Woost, pastor of Divine Word Parish in Kirtland, and Father Tom Woost, pastor of St. Brendan’s Parish in North Olmsted, accompanied their older brother to the tabernacle where they spent a few minutes in silent prayer.
They then joined the members of the council of priests, visiting bishops and other clergy entering the church.
“This is a great day for the Diocese of Cleveland as we ordain one of our own sons, one of our own priests, as our next Auxiliary Bishop,” Bishop Malesic said, greeting the congregation and those who were watching the live broadcast.
The bishop welcomed Archbishop of Cincinnati Dennis M. Schnurr, Msgr. Seamus Horgan, who represented Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio, as well as the other bishops present – including Archbishop of Philadelphia Nelson J. Pérez, his predecessor – and the priests, deacons, lay church ministers, nuns, diocesan personnel, leaders clerics, seminarians, seminary teachers, and the family and friends of the new auxiliary.
The ordination rite took place after the Gospel. Father Don Oleksiak, Diocesan Vicar General, introduced Bishop-designate Woost and Msgr. Horgan read the apostolic mandate of Pope Francis announcing the appointment of Bishop Woost.
The congregation replied, “Thank God,” after which Bishop Woost, accompanied by his brother priests, showed the mandate to Bishop Malesic and the other bishops before walking around the cathedral displaying the document.
In his homily, Bishop Malesic recalled how he blessed and consecrated the sacred oils during the annual Christian Mass on April 12 – just weeks before Pope Francis then appointed Fr Woost as auxiliary bishop on May 9. The new bishop served as master of ceremonies for the liturgy, a position he held for many years.
In one of the photos from the Mass, he said, Fr. Woost stood beside him as he blew on the chrism oil, calling on the Holy Spirit on it.
“While I was doing this, I was also silently praying to myself that we might use some of this chrism in the ordination of an auxiliary bishop to help me lead this diocese. Today God answered my prayers and the prayers of many others. We will use this chrism to anoint our new Auxiliary Bishop,” he said.
“After today, I am taking three months off. Just kidding…probably,” he joked, as the congregation laughed.
Bishop Malesic said what makes a bishop is not chrism, but the laying on of hands.
“Just as Jesus was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, Jesus sent twelve apostles into the world,” he said. “Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, they were to preach the gospel, gather the people into one flock, sanctify them, and lead them. For this ministry to continue until the end of time, the apostles in turn chose helpers.
“Through the laying on of hands, the apostles transmitted to their successors the gift of the Holy Spirit which they themselves had received from Christ,” Bishop Malesic said.
The tradition, handed down from the beginning, through the unbroken succession of bishops, is preserved from generation to generation, he said, and the work of the Savior continues and grows.
Bishop Malesic gave some advice to the new bishop, telling him to remain humble, to be a man of prayer, to always have the salvation of souls in mind, to preach the Gospel, to live the truth that he proclaims, to stand firm against the headwinds that seem to be blowing hard against us, defend us against the culture of death, defeat hatred with love, be devoted to our people, walk among them and listen to them.
“Celebrate the liturgy reverently, just as you taught others for many years as a seminary teacher,” he said. “Bridging the chasms of division that seem to separate us from each other, sometimes even within the church. Again, it’s best when we live together in harmony as one church, with one faith and one Lord.
Noting that August 4 was the feast of Saint Jean Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, he said the saint described the priesthood as the love of the heart of Jesus.
“Be the beating heart of Jesus’ love for the world. Reveal his presence to us,” Bishop Malesic said, referring to Bishop Woost’s episcopal motto, “Reveal your presence.”
The ordination continued with the new bishop lying on the floor of the cathedral while the litany of supplication was sung. The laying on of hands, the prayer of ordination, the handing over of the Gospel, the handing over of the insignia — the ring, the miter and the crosier — the installation of the new bishop and the fraternal kiss concluded the rite.
In brief remarks after Mass, Bishop Woost noted how grateful he is to God for his 63 years of life and to Pope Francis for the call to serve as a bishop, “as a shepherd among the people of God. It is extremely humiliating. »
He thanked everyone, from the nuncio and his representative at Mass to his brother bishops, to the priests, including his own brothers, to the seminarians, to everyone in the congregation.
Scanning the cathedral, Bishop Woost said, “You are the body of Christ.”
To his family, he expressed his love and said his parents would be proud of their seven sons.
“Together we go forward in thanksgiving for God’s gifts and for each other, aware, as Saint John Vianney was, that our God is so filled with love that he seeks us everywhere’. With hearts filled with gratitude, faith, hope and love, let us offer a simple prayer: Dearest God, Father, Son and Spirit, reveal your presence. »
Kovach is editor of Northeast Ohio Catholic, the magazine for the Diocese of Cleveland.