While Bishop Joseph Williams is more likely to be found riding a bicycle than riding a horse like the Apostle Paul, Archbishop Bernard Hebda observed during Bishop Williams’ ordination Mass on January 25, the new bishop can relate to “Apostle to the Gentiles” – even taking the Nov. 22 phone call announcing that Pope Francis had appointed him bishop.
“Instead of the light from heaven that had flashed around Saul, all our new Auxiliary experienced was a call on his cell phone from an unknown number in Washington, DC: ‘The Holy Father has appointed you Auxiliary Bishop from St. Paul and Minneapolis. Do you accept?’ That would be enough to bring down any man, any priest,” Bishop Hebda said.
A priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Bishop Williams was ordained a bishop on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, at St. Paul’s Cathedral in St. Paul.
Despite temperatures hovering around zero degrees and sub-zero wind chills, the cathedral was filled with family, friends and devotees of the Archdiocese, including representatives of several religious communities. Many of them were Latinos, an indication that since his priestly ordination in 2002, Bishop Williams’ ministry has included a special affection for Spanish-speaking Catholics. In his current assignments as pastor of St. Stephen and parish administrator at Holy Rosary, both in south Minneapolis, he serves a predominantly Latino community.
The procession included Latin women and girls carrying flowers, and men, women, and children wearing Latin American cultural attire, including a tunic with Our Lady of Guadalupe. Also present in the procession were members of the Knights of Columbus, Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, as well as seminarians, deacons and priests of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul. and Minneapolis. Altar servers included Bishop Williams’ nephews and parishioners.
Twelve bishops, mostly from Minnesota and surrounding states, concelebrated Mass.
Among them, Bishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States; former priests of the Archdiocese, Bishop Emeritus John Le Voir of New Ulm and Bishop Donald DeGrood of Sioux Falls; Maronite Chorbishop Sharbel Maroun, pastor of St. Maron in Minneapolis; Bishop Donald Kettler of St. Cloud; Bishop John Quinn of Winona-Rochester; Bishop Daniel Felton of Duluth; Bishop John Folda of Fargo; Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith of Portland, Oregon; and Auxiliary Bishop Juan Miguel Betancourt of Hartford, Connecticut, a member of the Society of Servants of the Eucharist and Mary, who ministered in the archdiocese from 2006 to 2018.
Two former auxiliary bishops of St. Paul and Minneapolis also concelebrated and served as co-consecrators for Bishop Williams’ episcopal ordination: Bishop Emeritus Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston. Bishop Cozzens served as Auxiliary Bishop from 2013 to his move to Crookston last month.
WHY THREE BISHOPS?At the ordination, three bishops in particular laid hands on Bishop Williams: Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Bishop Emeritus Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston. Archbishop Hebda served as the main consecrator, while the other two were co-consecrators.
According to the Code of Canon Law 1014, at least three bishops must participate in the ordination of a bishop. This ensures apostolic succession, or the transmission of the mission and authority of the Apostles, which continues in the Church through its bishops.
“The fact that three bishops are ordained in unison demonstrates that the apostolic faith of the Church is being faithfully transmitted,” said Father Tom Margevicius, worship director for the archdiocese. “Bishop Williams now participates in an unbroken chain, reaching back to the earliest apostles, carrying on the teaching and authority of Christ.”
Accompanying Bishop Williams as priest-chaplains during Mass were his younger brother, Father Peter Williams, pastor of St. Ambrose in Woodbury, and Father Daniel Griffith, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis and classmate at the seminar. Father Williams formally presented his brother to the Archbishop for ordination.
The gospel was proclaimed in Spanish by Deacon Luis Rubi, who ministered alongside Bishop Williams when he became pastor of St. Stephen in Minneapolis in 2008.
After the Liturgy of the Word, Bishop Pierre, who had made that fateful November phone call to Bishop Williams informing him of his appointment by Pope Francis, delivered a speech before reading the Papal Mandate appointing Bishop Williams as Titular Bishop. Idassa and appointing him auxiliary bishop. of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The papal nuncio then delivered the warrant to Bishop Williams, who showed the document to Bishop Hebda, then proceeded to process it around the cathedral, handing it to congregants, who cheered and clapped as a Latino choir sang.
In his homily, Archbishop Hebda, the main celebrant of the Mass and main consecrator in the ordination rite, spoke about the patron saint of the archdiocese, emphasizing the importance of conversion. The 17thandThe century Roman painter Caravaggio captured the conversion of Saint Paul – which included being blinded on the road to Damascus – with special beauty, he said. In the masterpiece, Paul, “virtually spilling out of the canvas”, is on his back, eyes closed, hands stretched skyward.
“It is not the posture worthy of an apostle or even a Pharisee or a Roman citizen,” Bishop Hebda said of the “Conversion on the Road to Damascus” painting, which is in a church from Rome. “Rather, it’s much more reminiscent of a certain helpless child next to a donkey in a Nativity scene.”
“What we are dealing with here is rebirth,” Bishop Hebda said. “Through this powerful encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, Saul was reborn, even taking on a new name: Paul. It is from this experience that stuns Paul, sure of himself and makes him vulnerable, that he could share convincingly with the Corinthians: that “when I am weak, then I am strong”.
The Archbishop noted that the ordination rite includes going “to the ground” as Bishop Williams bowed before the altar during a chanted litany of saints.
“We hope that through the spiritual accompaniment (of the saints) you will be confirmed in your great desire to joyfully accept the new call given to you by Pope Francis,” Bishop Hebda said, “even when you , like Paul, recognize that sometimes it will be a participation in the cross of Christ that will require you to die to yourself.
Praising the “incredible natural gifts” of Bishop Williams, Bishop Hebda said “even they will pale in comparison to what the Lord desires to pour into you today through the Holy Spirit.”
He said it was “no coincidence” that the ordination rite began with the “Veni Creator Spiritus” or “Come, Creator Spirit”.
THANKSGIVING MASSESBishop Joseph Williams plans to hold four public Thanksgiving Masses, including two in his hometown of Stillwater and one in each of the parishes he currently leads.
– Sunday, January 30: 9 a.m. (English) and 11 a.m. (Spanish) at Holy Rosary, Minneapolis
– Sunday, February 6: 8am. at Sainte-Marie, Stillwater
– Sunday, February 6: 11 a.m. at St. Michael, Stillwater
– Sunday, February 13: 9:00 a.m. (Spanish), 10:30 a.m. (English), and noon (Spanish) in St. Stephen, Minneapolis
“The Church pleads for you and for itself: ‘Come, Holy Spirit,'” he said. “It was only after the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit that they were able to proclaim the gospel to all peoples, uniting them under one shepherd, sanctifying them and guiding them to salvation. It was the Holy Spirit who led them to recognize that they would need to perpetuate their apostolic ministry from generation to generation, requiring them to choose other men to participate in their work, transmitting to them, by the laying on of hands, the gift of the Spirit which they themselves had received from Christ.
“We celebrate this today — that through an unbroken succession of bishops down through the centuries, this same gift of the Spirit is now being passed on to my brother Joseph, that the living tradition of the Church may be preserved. and that the work of Jesus may continue and grow,” he said.
At the end of the mass, Bishop Williams, wearing his miter and a vestment with an embroidered icon of Saint Paul, addressed those gathered in English and Spanish. He said it was the work of God that brought about his ordination and he hoped for what Bishop Hebda preached – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
“I don’t have a mission statement,” he says. “We heard the mission of Bishop Pierre: I am here to assist Bishop Hebda in his pastoral care of this archdiocese.
He continued, “We all have a mission: to go out and proclaim the good news. What’s the good news? It’s Jesus Christ.
He thanked his family and his “brother bishops”. “I feel like ‘I’m stepping into something’ — it’s college, not individual work. It existed before today. It will exist when I am in heaven. And I want to be part of that, (a) collaborating with them, always watching out for the unity of the Church.
At his ordination, Bishop Williams, 47, is the youngest Latin Rite bishop in the United States, according to data from church-hierarchy.org. He ended his remarks with a reflection on the responsibility of a bishop to cultivate vocations among young people. He pointed to Pope Saint John Paul II, who asked young people, “What will you do with your life? What are your plans? Have you ever thought about dedicating your life totally to Christ? Do you think there could be anything greater than bringing Jesus to people and people to Jesus?”
Bishop Williams ended his remarks with the words of Saint John Paul: “Follow Christ”.
“You who are single or who are preparing for marriage, follow Christ,” he said, quoting the late pope. “You who are old or young, follow Christ. You who are sick or aging, follow Christ. You who feel the need of a friend, follow Christ.
Category: Bishop Williams, featured