At Bishop Joseph Strickland's ordination ceremony at Caldwell Auditorium on Wednesday, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo encouraged the new bishop with advice he received at his first visit with Pope John Paul II.
“There are bishops here from other states,” DiNardo said. “That gives an indication of how significant they consider this day, not just to Tyler, but to us all.”
One of the far-traveling dignitaries was Archbishop Carlo Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The position serves as an ambassador for the Pope, and Vigano read aloud the official letter of approval from Pope Benedict XVI to Strickland. In the letter, the pope spoke of Strickland fondly, saying “I know you are capable in pastoral matters and not lacking priestly zeal.”
A chuckle rippled through the packed auditorium at the pope's mention of Tyler being, “The rose capital of the world.”
It is unusual for the pope to choose a bishop to lead the diocese where he began his career. Tyler's previous bishop, who served for more than a decade, Bishop Alvaro Corrada, now oversees the Diocese of Mayaguez in Puerto Rico. He returned to Tyler as a co-consecrator for the ceremony.
“Welcome, my fellow East Texans,” Corrada said, to much applause. “Welcome my brother priests — I ordained a number of you. And welcome deacons — I ordained almost all of you.”
Though Corrada will focus on his diocese in Puerto Rico now, DiNardo thanked him for his service and reminded the bishop that he “can come back to Tyler just for fun now.”
The ceremony included several traditions steeped in Biblical symbolism: Strickland's head was anointed with oil and the other bishops on the stage laid their hands on his head, symbolizing that “the ordination of a bishop is a collegial act of the Order of Bishops, incorporating a new member into their community,” according to the program.
In his homily, DiNardo spoke of the unique benefits Strickland has as a bishop who comes from the diocese in which he served as a priest.
“This is the church that gave birth to you,” he said. “You come from this clergy, you have no excuse not to love them. Tyler community, your brother is now your shepherd. When he is corrective, you can recognize that he comes from a place of love.”
In the news conference announcing his appointment in September, Strickland called his appointment “a joyful message.”
“My greatest joy has always been to gather around the altar of Christ with you,” he said. “I know this is a tremendous challenge, but I'm here with family.”