A new bishop!

As of today, Mgr. Gerard de Korte is the new bishop of the diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden. Seen on the back in the photo above, he receives the staff of the diocese’s first bishop, Mgr. Nierman, from the hands of his predecessor, Mgr Wim Eijk, the Archbishop of Utrecht.

Its been a busy evening and day, run expertly by Father Jos Deuling in his role as MC. Before he became a priest he was a chef, and I can imagine him running a busy kitchen the way he ran the entire show today. They do say that telling priests what to do is more difficult then herding cats, so Fr. Jos did an excellent job. And judging by the massive grin he sported afterwards, he agreed. 😉

As for my duties, they consisted of showing up last night at six, to be told what the role of host exactly entailed. It turned out to be following an intricate chart of who would be seated where (varying from family and friends of the new bishop, to civilian authorities (including Secretary of Justice Hirsch-Ballin), delegates from the parishes and representatives of the Archdiocese. All with their own bit of cathedral to sit in. After we had dedicated that to memory, some of us, including Guido and me, would go over the order in which the offerings would be brought forward (those included gifts from the various parts of the diocese).

The rest of the evening we spent in front-row pews hugely enjoying various priests standing in for he Archbishop, Bishop de Korte or Mgr. Bacque, the nuncio, with varying levels of conviction or success. In actuality, they were rehearsing the program of the next day.

That day was today, and started for me at eight in the cathedral, for a full runthrough, with Father Victor playing Archbishop Eijk (including mannerisms). The film crew of the KRO was busy testing lights and sound in the mean time, creating interesting disco effects in the cathedral.
At ten the doors opened, and from then until a few minutes past eleven, all of us hosts were busy showing people their seats. I estimate a total of some 600 people with 12 hosts accompanying them. The entire Mass can be seen here.

There was a reception afterwards, with many speakers. I missed most of them, due to helping Fr. Wagenaar with his English homily. I was back in time for a hugely entertaining drink and conversation with friends, two priests and a hermit. I also got the opportunity to shake hands with both Bishop de Korte and Archbishop Eijk.

It was busy, but enormously enjoyable. I realise I’m very lucky to not just be able to do and experience these things, but to do so with the friends I have.

The new bishop on the cathedra of his diocese, flanked by his vicars and vicar-general, Fathers Wellen, Van Ulden and Te Velde, and Archbishop Eijk.

Both photos taken by Joost Goes, courtesy of RKK.nl

Habemus Episcopum

The Latin in this post’s title is probably quite incorrect, but that hardly matters. What does matter is that we finally, after six months, have a new bishop!

Monsignor Gerard de Korte, formerly assistant bishop in the Archdiocese Utrecht will succeed Bishop Eijk in our neck of the woods. He’s been a likely candidate ever since Eijk left for Utrecht, but his name was sort of snowed under as other likely candidates were discussed. But he got the appointment nonetheless. Since Mgr. De Korte is already a bishop, we won’t be seeing a bishop’s ordination in the cathedral just yet (better luck next time), though.

I’ve never met the new bishop, but attended a Mass he offered in Leeuwarden a few months ago. His homily was very good, and he apparently is rather intelligent himself. It’s good news alround, I’d say.

On the appointment of Archbishop Eijk

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed our bishop, Mgr Willem Eijk, as the new archbishop of Utrecht and head of the Dutch church province. He will be installed as such on the 26th of January.

I am not sure what to think of it. I have full confidence that this is very good news for the Church in this country, but I wonder what this means for our diocese… Mgr. Eijk has worked wonders since his appointed in 1999. His policies have increased the number of vocations, turned the various parishes back on the same path, and back to Rome, and he´s done sterling work with the youth and for the return of religious communities to the diocese.

But still, only eight years in which he has been able to do the kind of work that takes time to develop. That´s a very short time. I hope whoever succeeds him will continue his work, and is able to do so.

He, and his work here, will be missed by many people. He may be a bishop, but if one cleric was eminently approachable by anyone, it was him.

Mixed feelings.