Envoys of the Vatican along with dozens of US Catholic prelates gathered this week at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston for the historic installation of Bishop Steven Lopes, the first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.
The American ordinariate was established by the Vatican in 2012 for Anglicans who wanted to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining some of their Anglican patrimony.
Bishop Lopes assumed his new post, declaring “Magna Opera Domini – Great are the works of the Lord.”
Appointed by Pope Francis in November Bishop Lopes, a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, succeeds Mgr Jeffrey Steenson, who announced his retirement last year.
“We thank God for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his spirit-prompted vision of unity and faith in a diversity of expression which informs the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus,” Bishop Lopes said. “We thank God for our Holy Father Pope Francis for putting his vision into concrete expression.”
With Anglicanorum coetibus, Pope Benedict established the ordinariate on January 1, 2012, in response to requests by Anglicans in the US and Canada seeking to become Catholics.
For the past 10 years Bishop Lopes, 40, worked at the Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, where he helped guide the process for American and Canadian Anglican congregations wishing to join the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the doctrinal congregation’s prefect, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington were co-consecrators.
The homilist was Cardinal William Levada, the retired head of the congregation. He also is former Archbishop of San Francisco and ordained the new bishop as a priest in 2001.
“Today is Candlemas day, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord,” Cardinal Levada said. “Today is the blessed day when Jesus was presented in the temple by Mary and Joseph.
Outwardly he was fulfilling the law, but in reality he was coming to meet his believing people. Among the believing people he met in the Jerusalem temple, the names of Simeon and Anna have sounded down the ages. But the liturgy is not simply about a past event.
“On Candlemas Day in this year of grace 2016, Jesus has come again to meet his believing people in word and sacrament,” he continued. “The people of faith Jesus has come to meet today is us, you and me – the Church. And the name that will go forward from this day in this encounter with Christ is that of Steven Joseph Lopes.”