New apostolic delegate to the tropical Netherlands

Following the reassignment of Archbishop Thomas Gullickson to the Ukraine in May (which sadly seemed to herald the end of his blog, Island Envoy), the island nations in the Carribean welcomed their new Nuncio yesterday. He is Archbishop Nicola Girasola, 54, who arrives from an almost six year stint as prelate diplomat in Zambia and Malawi.

Among the countries and dependencies where he will be the highest representative of the Holy See, are the Dutch constituent countries of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten, and the special municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

Archbishop Girasoli was born in Apulia, southern Italy, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1980 by Blessed Pope John Paul II. In 1986 he was incardinated in the Diocese of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi. 20 years later, at the age of 48, Fr. Girasoli was appointed to be the nuncio to Zambia and Malawi, being ordained as archbishop of the titular see of Egnazia Appula (perhaps not coincidentally also the location of his hometown) in March of that year. Now, close to six years later, he is transferred to 10 independent countries, where he’ll be the Nuncio, and 14 more dependencies, where he’ll hold the position of Apostolic Delegate.

Diplomatic musical chairs – Abp. Gullickson to Ukraine

As papal representatives and delegates are moved about the globe – Mennini from Russia to the UK, then Jurkovic from Ukraine to Russia – part of the Netherlands now bids farewell to its Apostolic Delegate: Archbishop Thomas Gullickson (of the Island Envoy* blog) is set to take over Archbishop Jurkovic’s duties as Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine. His appointment was made public on Saturday.

Before that date, the archbishop represented the Holy See in the Dutch municipalities in the Caribbean, as well as in most other smaller island nations there. This year would have been his seventh year in the tropics. The Ukrainian post will be his second diplomatic posting, and he’ll be the fourth representative in that country since Ukraine became independent from the crumbling Soviet Union.

The last interval in which the Caribbean went without a nuncio lasted for five months in 2004, so, perhaps, by October of this year we’ll know who will take over the reins from Archbishop Gullickson there.

*Decidedly un-islandlike, Ukraine may warrant a change of name for the archbishop’s blog…

Stats for February (and a bit of March) 2011

A return to the monthly stats reports, this one includes February and a tiny bit of March, a period which saw 4,154 visits to my blog, a pretty average number. In the top 10, it is striking to note a number of old posts (numbers 6, 8 and 9) as well as a very recent one at number 4. The situation around Bishop Schilder is of interest to many, it would seem.

I have noticed that a growing number of my blog posts tend to discuss hierarchical topics. In other words, the accusation leveled against me from some corners, that I am a bishop worshipper (or, in the words of a commenter here, an episcopolatrist), seems to develop some basis in fact. Of course I don’t worship bishops, but I do acknowledge their important role in the world Church. In many ways, I consider myself inspired by a blog like Whispers in the Loggia which discusses news topics about the hierarchy in the American Church. In my own small and inadequate way, I would like to offer something similar for the Church in northwestern Europe.

Anyway, on to the top 10:

1: A real church, “not one of those multifunctional things” 145
2: Another blogging bishop 80
3: Berlin is vacant, herald of things to come? 72
4: Dutch missionary bishop in the dock, Saint Valentine the Unknown 63
5: The archbishop gets his wish, Saint Paul’s prophetic words and Peter Seewald on the attack 56
6: The Stations of the Cross 52
7: Facing a difficult situation with “good humour” – Belgium veruss the archbishop 50
8: Another timely reminder, Het probleem Medjugorje 39
9: A poignant photo 34
10: Anti-life proposals questioned by its ‘target audience’ 31

Another blogging bishop

I have added a new bishop’s blog to my blogroll, although said blog has been up and running for a while now (since December 2006). It is titled Island Envoy and is written by Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, the nuncio to a whole swarm of Caribbean nations and islands.

Archbishop Gullickson is 60 and has been the nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and Grenada since 2004. He generally posts homilies, as well as reviews and reflections.

Archbishop Gullickson, pictured here with Bishop van Luyn, emeritus of Rotterdam, on Paramaribo

Photo credit: RKK/Mieke Lamers

“The cathedral has been resurrected”

Words from Bishop Wim de Bekker of Paramaribo, Suriname, during the reconsecration of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, yesterday. The cathedral, which is the largest all-wood church in the world, had been out of use for 25 years after dry-rot, termites and ground settlement had rendered it unsafe for use. With the exterior renovated, the cathedral is once again ready to fulfill its role as the church of Suriname’s only diocese.

The warm colours of the Paramaribo cathedral. Much of the interior still awaits renovation.

As part of the renovation efforts, the remains of Blessed Petrus Donders, a Dutch priest who worked as a missionary among the lepers in the nineteenth century, was entombed in a specially-designed chapel.

Representing the Netherlands, of which Suriname was a colony until 1975, was Bishop Ad van Luyn of Rotterdam, who presented a silver-embossed Evangeliarium and consecrated the altar dedicated to Blessed Petrus Donders. Also present was the nuncio to many of the smaller central American and Caribbean countries, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson. He consecrated the Mary altar, while Bishop de Bekker consecrated the main altar.

Bishop de Bekker proudly shows the key to the cathedral

Photo credit: Lidy Peters (1, 2)