MADISON, Wisconsin — The new bishop of Madison told the congregation at his installation Mass June 25 that the Catholic Church “is forever young” and this is “our moment” to proclaim the good news of Christ.
“In God’s time, 2,000 years is merely the blink of an eye,” Bishop Donald J. Hying said in his homily. “So the Church is always just an hour after dawn, the sun has just come up, Christ has risen from the dead, and Mary Magdalene is running down the path to tell the Apostles that the tomb is empty.”
“This is our moment to boldly proclaim Christ, to live the faith, and to move forward the mission of the Church with joyful confidence in the Holy Spirit.”
More than 1,500 people attended the Mass at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison where he was installed as the fifth bishop of the diocese. Overflow seating was set up in the narthex and parish hall where Massgoers watched the installation on televisions.
The Knights of Columbus led a large procession into the church. Included in the procession were Mass servers — including diocesan seminarians — Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of Malta, deacons from the Diocese of Madison and surrounding areas, and concelebrating priests from the Diocese of Madison and surrounding areas.
The concelebrating archbishops and bishops included Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Toward the start of the Mass, Pierre said he was pleased to be there, and jokingly asked if his pronunciation of Hying, sounding like “HI-ing,” was correct. The bishop responded in the affirmative.
“I am grateful for your service to the Church of Gary (Indiana), which you have shepherded so wisely (as bishop). While you will be sorely missed there, the Holy Father has called you to lead the Church of Madison, whose shepherd was taken suddenly.”
Bishop Robert C. Morlino, the fourth bishop of Madison, died last November. Named April 25 by Pope Francis to succeed the late bishop, Hying had headed the Gary Diocese since 2015. Ordained a priest for the Milwaukee Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1989, he was a Milwaukee auxiliary from 2011 to 2015. He is a native of West Allis, Wisconsin.
“Your Excellency, you are being installed during the month of June. The month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which the Holy Father has said is the highest expression of divine love, the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy,” said Pierre.
“Your own episcopal motto Caritas numquam excidit, ‘Love never fails,’ points to the infinite love of God that flows from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The heart to which you must be conformed more and more each day.”
Pierre then read the papal bull, or the official letter, on Hying’s appointment to Madison. He gave it to the bishop, who in turn showed it to the other priests in attendance and walked up and down the aisles in the church so those in attendance could see it.
He was then escorted to the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, where he received the miter and crosier from Listecki and Pierre. Upon sitting on the chair, Hying fully assumed his role as bishop of Madison.
Hying was then greeted by members of the faithful including diocesan clergy and lay faithful who represented various parts of the diocese. Parish staff members and youth from the diocese also came up to greet the bishop.
Numerous people from various diocesan offices and ministries that attend to the church’s works of mercy — such as feeding the hungry, burying the dead and clothing the naked — also came up to greet him.
During his homily, Hying focused on the Gospel reading from John.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me? … This simple, yet profound question, posed to Peter by Jesus at the end of the Gospel, echoes down the centuries into our own hearts today,” Hying said.
“Is it not, in some sense, the most fundamental question of life?” he asked. “We all want to know that we are loved and valued, both by God and others. We seek some external assurance that we have been received, accepted, and embraced. That our existence matters. That we are not alone.”
Later in his homily, Hying addressed many of the different groups represented at the Mass, including the priests and seminarians.
He thanked the priests for their ministry and “profound commitment to Christ and to his church.”
“I look greatly forward to serving with you for many years to come as collaborators in this great work, as this band of disciples of the Lord who are privileged to serve God’s people,” he said. “You will always have my heart and you will always have my cell number.”
He asked for a round of applause for the priests.
Addressing the seminarians present, he said: “I’m so impressed with them.”
To the laity in the diocese, he said, “I offer my greetings and my love to you. You serve the Church in so many generous ways, your prayer, your marriages and families, the work you do, the time and treasure you give are the fire and energy that make the Church run forward in the sacred mission of Christ.”
He added: “To all of you, I pledge my heart and my prayers. How I wish I could sit down in the kitchen of every home, get to know all of you, drink a big cup of coffee and have a great chat. That will happen, I hope, one person and one place at a time.”
He addressed the Hispanic community in Spanish.
At the end of the Mass, Hying thanked many people, including Pierre and Cupich and bishops from other dioceses in Wisconsin.
He thanked family and friends in attendance, noting his father grew up in the Diocese of Madison and he has many relatives in the area.
“Whether you pronounce it ‘HI-ing’ or ‘Hing,’ I love you,” Hying said.
He pointed out that his brother Will, with his wife, Patricia, live on a farm in Jefferson County.
“It’s an awesome thing to be spiritually responsible for your brother,” the bishop said.
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Wondrash is on the staff of the Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Madison. Mary C. Uhler, editor, also contributed to this story.
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