HAGATNA, Guam — In an investiture ceremony Jan. 19, Tanzanian Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, apostolic delegate to the countries of the Pacific Ocean, conferred the pallium on Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agana.
The ceremony took place during Mass at Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna.
Byrnes originally received the pallium from Pope Francis at the Vatican last June during the annual pallium Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Guam prelate was among 30 newly named archbishops from throughout the world who traveled to Rome to concelebrate the Mass, with Pope Francis presiding. The pope blessed the palliums, which were then to be conferred on the archbishops in their respective dioceses.
The lamb’s wool pallium is the stole that signifies the shepherd’s mission. The 3-inch-wide band is worn around the neck and shoulders over Mass vestments and symbolizes an archbishop’s unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him.
The pallium is presented every year to new archbishops or those who have been assigned to a new archdiocese.
Byrnes was an auxiliary bishop of Detroit when Francis sent him to Guam in October 2016 as the coadjutor bishop with special powers in the midst of accusations of sexual abuse and financial mismanagement against Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron.
Apuron was later found guilty of abuse against minors by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. On April 4, 2019, the congregation rejected his appeal and upheld its guilty judgment — and fully affirmed Byrnes’s leadership as the shepherd of the Catholic faithful on Guam and the metropolitan archbishop of Agana.
In an address to the packed cathedral in Hagatna Jan. 19, Byrnes struck a tone of positivity and a bright future for the archdiocese. “We need new beginnings as a community,” he said.
“I’m just so happy we finally will have a permanent archbishop,” Marilou Martinez told the Pacific Daily News after the Mass at Guam’s cathedral. “I just had to come here, I had to make it. … it’s historic.”
In an interview in Rome when he received the pallium from Francis, Byrnes told Catholic News Service that when he arrived in the Guam archdiocese in 2016, protesters had been gathering outside the cathedral before every Mass the former archbishop celebrated.
To celebrate his first Mass there, Byrnes had to cross the picket line.
“I didn’t pick up a sign myself, but I understood,” he said. “But after a few months, they laid down their picket signs and walked into the church for Mass. These are faithful people.”
Byrnes said he believes Catholics in Guam are starting to “sense that the Church is starting to act more and more like the Church.”
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