HOUSTON (CNS) — Sunshine illuminated the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston when the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston welcomed the eighth auxiliary bishop to be ordained for the archdiocese — Bishop Italo Dell’Oro.
Toward the conclusion of his episcopal ordination Mass July 2, Bishop Dell’Oro processed throughout the co-cathedral, both greeting and imparting a blessing as a newly ordained bishop.
The Italian-born Bishop Dell’Oro also greeted the faithful in a trilingual message in Italian, Spanish and English, and perhaps what he called a fourth language: tears.
He thanked those who have accompanied him on his journey during his years of ministry, including his time at parishes, at colleges and with other communities of faith.
He said Galveston-Houston’s diverse population reflected the Book of Revelation: “The vision of the great multitude of every nation, race, and people and tongue.”
“In a way, I can say that heaven is already here in Houston because of this wonderful diversity,” he said.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston was the celebrant of the Mass and principal consecrator, with Bishop Michael J. Sis of San Angelo, Texas, and Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria, Texas, as co-consecrators.
Bishop Cahill served in the place of Italian Archbishop Franco Moscone of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, who is a member of Bishop Dell’Oro’s religious order, the Congregation of Somascon Fathers. The archbishop could not attend due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., also concelebrated the Mass, alongside Galveston-Houston’s retired Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza and retired Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz. Numerous other bishops from Texas other states such as Oklahoma and California also were in attendance.
With a recognizable beaming smile, Dell’Oro walked around the co-cathedral’s altar carrying the papal bull, the official apostolic letter from Pope Francis read out loud during the Mass by Archbishop Pierre. It declares the May 18 appointment of Dell’Oro as an auxiliary bishop of Galveston-Houston and bears the official metal seal of the Vatican and Pope Francis.
In his homily, DiNardo recognized that Dell’Oro’s family could not be there due to pandemic restrictions, but he thanked them for providing “support and nurture for Father Italo along the way, for accompanying him over here.”
DiNardo recognized Dell’Oro’s long ministry with youth and young adults and his immigrant journey to the United States.
“You came here as an immigrant and a stranger but were immediately welcomed,” he said. “Houston and this diocese are such a welcoming place. Welcome, all, especially the young people who come here from many different lands.”
Cardinal DiNardo also reflected on the importance of the ordination Mass and its unique rites.
“The sacraments are signs that are life-giving for one reason only, because of the greatness of God,” he said. “The Lord is active in his church today in the sacramental signs of ordination, a bishop’s ordination, which at heart are simple signs, the laying on of hands and prayer. We are joyful and know this celebration is important.”
DiNardo encouraged Dell’Oro to walk with the Lord to show the holiness of Christ and the church.
“From these rites today, Father Italo learned to benefit others rather than lord over them, preach the Word at all times and never lose patience, a virtue that our Holy Father speaks about all the time,” he said.
“In that patience, show every person the richness of the holiness of Christ, which is so full and so much wants to be shared with all people, that he wants to go to those near at hand and to those far off,” the cardinal said. “The patient hope will indeed reach the alienated and those at the margins, especially the poor.”
The Mass included several rites, which include the presentation of the soon-to-be-ordained bishop; the consent of the people; the promise of the elect; the invitation to prayer as a community; and the litany of supplication, a recognizable moment when the bishop-designate lays down before the altar, with the congregation praying for him and for the church.
The laying on of hands by Cardinal DiNardo and the co-consecrators signified the ordination was a collegial act of the bishops, incorporating a new member into their community for the service of the church.
With the Book of the Gospels raised over Dell’Oro’s head, DiNardo said the prayer of ordination, invoking the Holy Spirit upon the new bishop.
The cardinal used sacred chrism to anoint the head of Dell’Oro, and then presented the Book of the Gospels, saying: “Receive the Gospel and preach the word of God with all patience and sound teaching.”
Finally, DiNardo presented Dell’Oro with his ring, miter and pastoral staff, all of which indicate his new office as a bishop. Dell’Oro took his seat as bishop, then was greeted with the kiss of peace from his new brother bishops.
In other remarks as the Mass drew to a close, Dell’Oro shared a special message for the orphaned of the world.
“Children who do not have a family, we have a Father in heaven,” he said. “And we, as a community and society, are tasked with not leaving you orphans here on earth and to welcome you into this world and making sure that you are loved, protected and safe.”
He closed his remarks by imploring the intercession of St. Jerome Emiliani, founder of his Somascan community, then with a shout that echoed three times in the co-cathedral: “Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!”
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Ramos is a staff writer and designer for the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.