Catholic Herald staff
Whether they came for the solemnity, the pageantry, or just an opportunity to see a native son take his place as the head of the local church, the people came.
Cathedral staff estimated 1,000 people attended the Mass for the ordination and installation of Bishop James P. Powers, Thursday, Feb. 18, as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Superior — the fullest the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior, has been in recent memory.
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee ordained the Hammond native and longtime pastor of St. Joseph, Rice Lake, laying hands on his head, saying the prayer of ordination, anointing his head, handing on the Book of the Gospels, and presenting him with his episcopal ring, miter, and crosier. Following the ordination rite, Bishop Powers was led to his chair — kathedra, in Greek.
Shortly after the start of Mass, Pope Francis’ apostolic nuncio in the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, read the apostolic letter of appointment for Bishop Powers.
In addressing the bishop-elect, Archbishop Vigano spoke of the responsibilities of the office and invoked the intercession of the diocese’s patron saint, Augustine of Hippo, on behalf of the new bishop.
In addition to the nuncio, 12 other bishops participated in the celebration, including former Diocese of Superior Bishop Peter F. Christensen, now of the Diocese of Boise, Idaho, and Bishop Paul D. Etienne, Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, who served as co-consecrators of the bishop.
The latter was a seminary classmate of Bishop Powers.
Leaders of area Christian churches, the chancellor of UW-Superior, an Ojibwe tribal elder and various others were among those present. More than 60 priests and more than 30 deacons, along with women religious were part of the congregation.
During his homily, Archbishop Listecki, who was wearing the pectoral cross of the diocese’s eighth bishop, Bishop George A. Hammes, told the congregation, “You have been given a leader with a pastor’s heart to shepherd you in the days ahead.”
Speaking directly to Bishop Powers, Archbishop Listecki reminded him of how to approach his episcopacy.
“Jim, be a ‘holy bishop.’ Lead by example. Reconciliation and sacrificial love are transformative. I know that you share in every bishop’s sense of inadequacy,” the archbishop said. “We are limited and weak creatures but be not afraid to follow the Lord, take up his cross, and know that he is with you always until the end of time.”
The archbishop advised the new bishop how to make difficult decisions.
“For the next few months you will enjoy a honeymoon period with your new bride, the Diocese of Superior. But eventually you will have to make decisions which may not always be welcomed,” he said. “Remember to make sure that your decisions are made out of love for the faithful entrusted to you knowing that in serving your people you serve the Lord Jesus who called you to feed his sheep.”
“Light a candle”
Near the conclusion of Mass, students from St. Francis Solanus School, Reserve, drummed, danced and signed on behalf of the native Ojibwe tribe to thank God for Bishop Powers and ask that he be granted many powers — kindness, wisdom, truth, encouragement and more. After the prayer, a tribal elder greeted the new bishop.
During his first address to the crowd in his role as their bishop, Bishop Powers thanked them for the “outpouring of support” and spoke of the need “to hear and take seriously Pope Francis’ call” in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. To the parishioners at St. Joseph, Rice Lake, who welcomed him as an associate pastor following his priesthood ordination in 1997, and 13 years ago as their pastor, he said, “What a blessing you have been to me, and I hope and pray that I’ve been somewhat of a blessing to you as well.”
He concluded his remarks with the same words he used to begin his year as diocesan administrator: “Light a candle.”
“Light a candle for me,” he added. “Light a candle for the diocese. For the church and the world, and let us pray that we truly to do let that light, our Lord, guide and direct each and every one of us.”
After Bishop Powers’ blessing, attendees were invited to the Cathedral School gymnasium for a reception.
Loree Nauertz, a catechist and youth group leader at St. Francis de Sales, Spooner, said she found the Mass inspiring.
“How incredibly beautiful,” she said. “I just think it was beautiful. I love it when we come together.”