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Many thanks to the Diocese of Breda, who put the homily online that Bishop Jan Liesen gave at his installation last week. It’s an excellent text, a great start for the latest ordinary of the Dutch Church province. Bishop Liesen speaks about leadership, responsibility and the form it takes in the Church: the form of service.

My English translation is here.

Photo credit: R. Mangold

Media coverage has been light, even in the Catholic press, but Bishop Jan Liesen nonetheless was installed as the eleventh Bishop of Breda yesterday.

Pre-installation, local media, interviewed faithful of the Diocese of Breda, asking what the expected from their new bishop. The general desire was for the new bishop to be ‘liberal’, in other words, not too push the more difficult bits of the Catholic faith too hard. I somehow doubt they’ll get their wish with scholar and theologian Jan Liesen.

Reflecting Bishop Liesen’s lack of liberal leanings, perhaps, is his using the staff, as pictured below, of one of his predecessors, Bishop Gerardus de Vet, who was Bishop of Breda from 1962 to 1967, and therefore the last pre-conciliar bishop of that diocese.

Speaking of predecessors, the Diocese of Breda is unique in that no less than three of its previous bishops are still alive. Bishop Hans van den Hende, of course, is now bishop of Rotterdam, but Breda has two emeriti as well: Bishop Tiny Muskens (bishop from 1994 to 2007) and Bishop Huub Ernst (1967-1992), at 94 the oldest Dutch bishop alive.

There is a small photo report of the installation available here.

Photo credit: R. Mangold/Diocese of Breda

“You don’t control the results, but that does not change the obligation to do the best we can. There is an essential element of freedom in there. You belong to the Roman Catholic Church because you want to, as conviction you gladly have. Many “enrolled” as children, but it must be confirmed at some point. If it isn’t, it remains something superficial and will not bear fruit. For the intended effect of sowing is for it to take root and bear fruit.”

Words from Bishop Jan Liesen, spoken in an interview with Katholiek Nieuwsblad, prior to his installation as bishop of Breda tomorrow. The installation Mass, which will be concelebrated by Bishop Liesen, his predecessor, Bishop Hans van den Hende, Archbishop Wim Eijk of Utrecht, Bishop Antoon Hurkmans of ‘s Hertogenbosch (where Msgr. Liesen has been auxiliary bishop), other bishops present, and members of the cathedral chapter. The new Nuncio to the Netherlands, Archbishop André Dupuy, will not yet be present. Instead, the Holy See will be represented by Msgr. Habib Thomas Halim, secretary of the nunciature in The Hague.

With some 500 people invited, the Mass is closed to visitors, simply because of the relatively small size of the Cathedral of St. Anthony. Priority has been given to representatives of the parishes of the diocese, as well as various dignitaries. In addition to the bishops mentioned above, Bishop Wiertz, De Korte, Punt, Mutsaerts, Hoogenboom and Hendriks will also be present, as well as Bishops Bonny and De Kesel from the two Belgian dioceses that border Breda, and the emeriti Cardinal Simonis, and Bishops Ernst, Muskens and Van Burgsteden.

On a plaque in the cathedral, Bishop Liesen's name has been added to the lists of bishops of Breda

The Queen’s Commissioners in the provinces of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant, the mayor of Breda and the governor of the Royal Military Academy, which is located in Breda, will also attend the Mass or the following reception.

As a leak in the official embargo of the news virtually established as fact yesterday, the Diocese of Breda announced the name of its new bishop at noon today. He is Msgr. Jan Liesen, currently one of the two auxiliary bishops of the neighbouring Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch. In a first reaction to the news, published minutes ago on Youtube, Bishop Liesen comes across as overwhelmed at the news, yet also humble, well-spoken and amiable.

Bishop Liesen was appointed to Breda fairly shortly after his consecration to bishop, which happened on 18 September of last year. A reassignment this soon after the previous one began is not unheard of, but pretty rare.

The appointment of Bishop Liesen to succeed Bishop Hans van den Hende, who was appointed to the Diocese of Rotterdam in May of this year and installed in July, provides for continuity. Both bishops know each other from their studies in Rome and seem to be equally all-round and firmly rooted in the Church. Bishop Liesen is an established teacher and theologian (as member of the International Theological Commission, he is off to Rome tomorrow for that body’s annual plenary meeting), with ample experience, as both bishops attest to in the video above.

Bishop Liesen will be installed as the 11th bishop of Breda on 28 January.

Photo credit: Bisdom Den Bosch

For a while now, I’ve seen people arrive on my blog via search terms like ‘new archbishop Luxembourg’. Perhaps they knew things I didn’t (not a very radical notion), because just today, the Vatican announced just that, a new archbishop for Luxembourg.

The archbishop emeritus, Msgr. Fernand Franck, was , at 77, already well past the retirement age, but for reasons we can only guess at, it took this long for a successor to be named. And that successor is Jesuit Fr. Jean-Claude Hollerich, pictured to the left with Msgr. Franck. Archbishop elect Hollerich is 52, and a priest since 1990. His biography mentions his education in Rome, Belgium, Germany and Japan, and indicates that Msgr. Hollerich is something of a language scholar, having extensively studied both Japanese and German. His list of publications, varying from writings about the origins of school grammars to European grammar in Asia, and with side excursions to the rise of national awareness of Luxembourg and the history of French Jesuits in Siam. Much of his experience, it would seem, he gained while working in the Archdiocese of Tokyo and as vice rector of the Sophia University there.

The archdiocese that Msgr. Hollerich will soon call his responsibility tends to be too easily forgotten. It wasn’t until 1840, one year after Luxembourg’s independence as a grand duchy was reaffirmed by the First Treaty of London, that it was split off from the Diocese of Namur as a separate apostolic vicariate. In 1870 it was promoted to a diocese, and only in 1988 was it elevated to the status of archdiocese. As the only diocese in Luxembourg, it’s archbishop is not a member of a bishops’ conference, although it does share a papal nuncio with Belgium.

There are an estimated 390,000 Catholics out of a total population of 511,000, served by some 250 priests and 550 religious.

Archbishop elect Hollerich will be consecrated to bishop and installed as Luxembourg’s third archbishop on 16 October. at the cathedral of Our Lady in the city of Luxembourg.

In the presence of bishops, the nuncio, chapter members and priests from the three dioceses associated with him, Bishop Hans van den Hende was installed as the fifth bishop of Rotterdam, yesterday.

In his homily, he put the term ‘installation’ in perspective.”You are being placed, as the pope also says of himself, in his letter of appointment, that he too has been placed.” Words that not only reflect the innate humility and matter-of-factness of the Groningen-born bishop, but also his strong sense of being in communion with world Church and the pope.

Taking his place, or being placed, on the transparent cathedra in the cathedral of Sts. Lawrence and Elisabeth, Bishop van den Hende continues trends started by his predecessor, Bishop Ad van Luynm standing on the right in the photo above. Among these is the northern heritage he brings with him: both bishops were born in Groningen. Another element is the bishops’ well-developed sense of responsibility for the youth. Bishop van Luyn, even before his appointment to Rotterdam, kept searching for ways to connect to young people and communicate the Gospel to them. In the past year this has become visible in, for example, the great Passion event in Gouda, but also in Taizé on the Maas, held around Christmas last year. Bishop van den Hende has that same sense, if less pronounced. It is more something that naturally expresses itself in his actions and words. He easily communicates with young people, as he does with virtually anyone he meets, and young people notice that here is a man who not only listens, but also understands them. And that is a man that they can listen to and understand. The Catholic youth of Rotterdam are in good hands, it would seem.

Young people in their WYD 2011 clothes congratulate the bishop

After the Mass of installation – which the coming and going ordinaries concelebrated with, among others, Archbishop François Bacqué, the papal nuncio, Archbishop Wim Eijk, Msgr. Dick Verbakel, the vicar general, Msgr Schoenmakers, the general delegate of the Diocese of Breda, and priests from Rotterdam, Breda and Groningen-Leeuwarden – Bishop van den Hende consecrated his new diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This was a seemingly unplanned gesture, but fitting on today’s feast of the same Immaculate Heart. “No one opened their heart so for God as Mary did,” the bishop said. He called those present to wonder “what we can do for God, what His plan for us is.”

Nuncio Archbishop Bacqué, with secretary Msgr. Habib Thomas Halim at his side, shows the papal letter of appointment

Succeeding bishops, Van den Hende and Van Luyn

For more photos, courtesy of Peter van Mulken, go here.

When the news broke yesterday that the name of the new bishop of Rotterdam would be announced at noon today, the rumour mill started to turn. And in all those rumours, speculations, and (semi-) educated guesses, one name kept popping up more than any other: that of Msgr. Hans van den Hende, the bishop of Breda. And, indeed, his was the name announced at the start of the afternoon.

The official portrait of Bishop van den Hende, as used on the website of the Diocese of Breda

A bishop moving from one diocese to the next, while not unheard of, is a fairly rare occurrence in the Netherlands. In the recent past we’ve only had Bishop Eijk who moved from Groningen-Leeuwarden to become archbishop in Utrecht. The reasons why it happens now may be myriad, but the fact that it involves the youngest bishop of the Netherlands (Msgr. van den Hende is 47), who has only helmed Breda for a little over four years, may be seen as a vote of confidence from Rome.
 
When he started in Breda after a year of being coadjutor bishop under Bishop Muskens, Bishop van den Hende gave the impression of a man who had a job to get on with. Never one for sensationalism, budget cuts or massive overhauls of diocesan programs, the Groningen-born bishop had a job to do, and he intended to get it done. Well, that job has now been replaced by a similar job in a larger and far more urban diocese. The effects of northern sensibility in the rapidly developing industrial west may surprise us.
 
Before all that becomes clear, the Diocese of Rotterdam will officially receive its new bishop on 2 July, the installation date, in the cathedral of Saints Lawrence and Elisabeth.

Bishops van den Hende (2nd left) and Van Luyn (2nd right) during the press conference today

 
During the press conference earlier today, Bishop van den Hende spoke about having to leave Breda after only a few years. He called it “a step in faith”.
 
“Saying yes in faith as a deacon, priest and bishop, are extensions of each other. I said that during the press conference on 9 September 2006, when I began in Breda. That the road of your vocation keeps demanding new steps becomes abundantly clear now that I accepted the pope’s request to become bishop of Rotterdam. This new ‘yes’ is also an extension of the first. When you start somewhere as bishop it is a prerequisite to perform the pastoral task you have received with all your heart.”
 
Finally, the Dutch bishops’ conference released the following statement:
 
“The Dutch bishops are grateful and pleased with the appointment of Msgr. van den Hende as bishop of the Diocese of Rotterdam. The bishops congratulate their colleague, who is now bishop of Breda, with this appointment and look forward to continuing the good collaboration.
We know Msgr. van den Hende as a modest and congenial man who works with much dedication, loyalty and involvement in his Diocese of Breda. We are convinced that he will continue his service to the Lord and His Church fruitfully in the Diocese of Rotterdam. We therefore congratulate the Diocese of Rotterdam wholeheartedly with this appointment.
We also congratulate Msgr. van Luyn with the appointment of Msgr. van den Hende.
The Dutch bishops  realise that the faithful of the Diocese of Breda, after only five years, have to bid farewell to Msgr. van den Hende.”
 

Photo credit:
[1] Raymond Mangold
[2] Geertje Algera

On the sixth anniversary of his election to the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI appointed a new archbishop of Cardiff. It is Bishop George Stack, until today one of the three auxiliary bishops of Westminster. The metropolitan see of Wales had been vacant since Archbishop Peter Smith was appointed to Southwark almost a year ago.

Archbishop-elect Stack was born in Ireland in 1946. In 1972 he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Westminster, the same archdiocese of which he became an auxiliary bishop in 2001. He now becomes the ninth ordinary of Cardiff, which is an archdiocese since 1916.

Cardiff is one of three Catholic dioceses in Wales – the others are Wrexham and Menevia – but in numbers it is fairly small. Only about 6% of the population, some 82,000, is Catholic. Nonetheless, it is the first diocese of Wales. Both Menevia and Wrexham were created out of the archdiocese, which once covered all of Wales and adjoining counties in England, although it was then known as the Vicariate Apostolic of Wales.

Via the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Archbishop-elect Stack writes:

“I am humbled and honoured at the trust Pope Benedict XVI has placed in appointing me Archbishop of Cardiff.

“Although I am sad to be leaving the Archdiocese of Westminster, in which I have served as priest for 29 years and auxiliary bishop for 10 years, I look forward to serving the people and clergy of the Church in Cardiff with love and faithfulness in the years that lie ahead.

“I am aware of the long and noble history of Christianity in Wales and the special gifts the Celtic people bring to the Universal Church. I hope to share in this rich tradition of faith.”

A date for the installation for the new archbishop will be published soon.

Two homilies, one from Den Bosch, the other from Brussels. Delivered under radically different circumstances too. The first is Fr. van Rossem’s homily that he delivered yesterday morning. I doubt many people heard it all, because certain people decided they weren’t getting enough attention. At the end of Mass, Father van Rossem said he’d put his homily online, and he did. The original is here and my translation can be read here.

The second homily is a far more festive one. It was delivered by Archbishop Léonard at his installation Mass. In it, he engages everyone in his archdiocese to work with him in the Church. How anyone could read this as distant, cold and hostile is a big question, but many people in Belgium accuse Msgr. Léonard of just that. But judging by this homily, he is a man with a job to do, and a willingness to do that job with everyone involved. Read the original or my translation.


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

About this blog

I am a Dutch Catholic from the north of the Netherlands. In this blog I wish to provide accurate information on current affairs in the Church and the relation with society. It is important for Catholics to have knowledge about their own faith and Church, especially since these are frequently misrepresented in many places. My blog has two directions, although I use only English in my writings: on the one hand, I want to inform Dutch faithful - hence the presence of a page with Dutch translations of texts which I consider interesting or important -, and on the other hand, I want to inform the wider world of what is going on in the Church in the Netherlands.

It is sometimes tempting to be too negative about such topics. I don't want to do that: my approach is an inherently positive one, and loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. In many quarters this is an unfamiliar idea: criticism is often the standard approach to the Church, her bishops and priests and other representatives. I will be critical when that is warranted, but it is not my standard approach.

For a personal account about my reasons for becoming and remaining Catholic, go read my story: Why am I Catholic?

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Latest translations added:

20 April: [English] Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki - Easter message.

15 April: [English] Bishop Frans Wiertz - Homily on sexual abuse.

4 April: [English] Pope Francis - Interview with Belgian youth.

25 February: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Brief aan de Gezinnen.

24 February: [Dutch] Raymond Kardinaal Burke - De radicale oproep van de paus tot de nieuwe evangelisatie.
De focus van Paus Franciscus op liefde en praktische pastorale zorg in de grotere context van de Schrift en de leer van de Kerk.

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Sancta Maria, hortus conclusus, ora pro nobis!

Sancte Ramon de Peñafort, ora pro nobis!

Pope Francis

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God

Bishop Gerard de Korte

Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden

Willem Cardinal Eijk

Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht

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