There’s been a lot of excitement the past few weeks within the East Texas religious community.
The past few weeks, a lot of Catholics have talked to me about their fondness for the man who has been a part of their diocese for more than 25 years. Now he would be their leader.
It is rare for the pope to select a bishop from within diocese where the bishop served as a priest, but for some reason, the pope made an exception with Strickland.
The joy on their faces as they spoke about the upcoming ordination made it hard not to smile along with them.
The ordination was a sight to behold. Beautiful robes, clouds of incense, golden religious props made the ceremony pretty visually compelling. The songs and ritualized chants were beautiful as well.
I wasn’t raised Catholic (as the Catholics I’ve spoken with could probably pick up on from my barrage of questions). So, while I enjoy the ceremonies I attend and can appreciate their historical and symbolic significance, it’s hard for me to grasp the necessity.
But there were plenty of other moments in the ceremony that stood out as divine.
- The way the priests warmly greeted one another before the ceremony began.
- The inclusion of religious leaders from other faiths.
- The way one priest stood along the aisle and shook hands and smiled at several of the participants in the processional.
- The gratitude everyone expressed with their applause when Bishop Strickland and former Bishop Alvaro Corrada entered the room.
- The affection with which Bishop Corrada, who led the diocese for more than a decade, introduced Bishop Strickland, and the playfulness in Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s sermon (refreshingly, religious leaders are some of the most lighthearted people).
She had captured the one of Bishop Strickland that I hoped she would.
After Cardinal DiNardo questioned Bishop Strickland and found him to be ready for leadership of the diocese, Strickland kneeled to have the cardinal place the bishop’s miter on his head.
“Joseph, take your place,” DiNardo said, almost as a whisper, and gestured for him to move to his Cathedra, the seat that represents the bishop’s teaching authority.
The photographer commented on Bishop Strickland’s expression as he sat in the chair and faced the audience, now officially their bishop.
“He looks really happy,” she said.
It was more than just happy. It was honored. It was humbled. It was love.