Comings and goings – two dioceses prepare for a new bishop

In preparation for Saturday’s installation, Bishop Gerard de Korte’s (redesigned) coat of arms is placed above the cathedra in the cathedral basilica of St. John the Evangelist in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

In a couple more days, ‘s-Hertogenbosch will have its new bishop while Groningen-Leeuwarden will welcome its temporary diocesan administrator. This administrator, most likely vicar general Msgr. Peter Wellen, is to manage current affairs in the diocese until the new bishop arrives. The next step of the selection of that new bishop now lies with the Nuncio, Archbishop Aldo Cavalli. The cathedral chapter of Groningen-Leeuwarden has sent him their list of three candidates, the so-called terna, and it is the Nuncio’s task to collect information on the men on it, as well as collecting the advice and suggestions of the others bishops in the country. The list and information will then be sent to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, after which Pope Francis will make the final choice. For now, I expect one of the auxiliary bishops of Utrecht, Herman Woorts or Theodorus Hoogenboom, to come to Groningen-Leeuwarden. Yes, that is slight change in previous ideas on my part.

Whoever it will be, his appointment will probably take place after the summer, which means that the diocese’s major annual event, the St. Boniface Days in Dokkum on 10 to 12 June, will happen without a resident bishop. Under Bishop de Korte, this event has seen a significant development, and this year it will for the first time expand beyond Catholic boundaries, containing a significant ecumenical element in the participation of local Protestant churches. Bishop de Korte will attend and offer the Mass at the procession park in Dokkum on the final day. He may also participate in the preceding procession, but an episcopal presence is at least assured in the person of Bishop Karlheinz Diez, auxiliary of Fulda. Both Groningen-Leeuwarden and Fulda have events dedicated to St. Boniface, being the places where he was respectively killed and lies buried, and Bishop de Korte has previously attended the Fulda festivities.

Groningen-Leeuwarden, in the mean time, has taken every opportunity in bidding their beloved bishop farewell, not least during the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes earlier this month, as well as in a special edition of the diocesan magazine.


Photo credit [1] Ramon Mangold, [2] Marlies Bosch

A deacon and a bishop line up for a procession…

Just for a laugh, recently-ordained Deacon Pascal Huiting and Bishop Gerard de Korte at the start of the procession to the chapel of St. Boniface, at this year’s St. Boniface Day in Dokkum.

Despite the rain, it seems that a good time was had by at least two people. More photos, showing impressions of the procession,  the address by Fr. Antoine Bodar, the workshops and the bishop blessing people and things are available here.

Photo credit: Marlies Bosch

Congratulations to a Philippine bishop

Amid an impressive list of appointments (eleven in total) made yesterday is the name of Msgr. Sergio Lasam Utleg. The 67-year-old Philippine prelate was appointed to the archiepiscopal see of Tuguegarao. Archbishop-elect Utleg has a distinct Dutch connection, and that is reason enough for this blog to congratulate him.

In 1999, Msgr. Utleg was one of the consecrators, next to Cardinal Simonis and Bishop Wiertz, of Bishop Wim Eijk. The dioceses of the two respective bishop, Ilagan and Groningen-Leeuwarden, developed friendly relations and several exchanges. In 2006 Bishop Utleg was present at the annual St. Boniface Day in Dokkum and later that year, a group of young faithful from Groningen-Leeuwarden visited Ilagan.

Bishop Utleg became bishop in Laoag in 2006, and Bishop Eijk went on to become the archbishop of Utrecht in 2007. The five-year term in Laoag was ended yesterday, when Msgr. Utleg was appointed to archbishop of the northernmost archdiocese of the Philippines.

Stats for June 2010

A few days late, but here they are nonetheless (mostly for myself, I’ll admit)

June was a slightly better month than May, although the news and the topics I wrote about diminished a bit in the second half of the month. 3,652 page views were registered, bringing the total since the beginning of January to 22,582. As I thought, it did indeed cross the 20,000 somewhere around mid-June.

The ten most popular posts were the following:

1: A gentle pope, but rock solid in the execution (167)
2: St. Boniface Day 2010 (130)
3: Ouellet to the Congregation for Bishops (81)
4: The curious case of Bishop Walter Mixa (68)
5: Cardinal Newman to be beatified by the pope, officially announced (62)
6: Introductie op de Geest van de Liturgie – onofficiële vertaling (60)
7: Msgr. De Kesel to Bruges? Wow (54)
8: Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Amsterdam (52)
9: A difficult choice in the voting booth (48)
10: Father Cor Mennen had better look out… perhaps (44)

The high ranking of my post about the St. Boniface Day is mainly due to a link from my favourite Dutch blogger (for a giving value of ‘favourite’), who saw fit to use it as one more tool to attack my bishop, albeit not very convincingly (seriously, I’m suddenly an authority on  how many people attend an event?). Anyway, spike in stats – always nice.

Speaking of bishops, they and other curia members were the trend in the search terms. Msgr. Gänswein (yes, still), Bishop Mixa and the Venerable Cardinal Newman were all popular.

And lastly, can I say how very happy I am to see my translation of Msgr. Marini’s address on the liturgy still lingering in the top 10? Oh, I just did.

St. Boniface Day 2010

One verb would adequately summarise my experience of the annual St. Boniface Day, and that verb is ‘walking’. Leaving the small village in Nes, after a pilgrim’s blessing from Fr van Ulden, we set off towards the coast of the Wadden sea near Wierum. We walked along the dyke, amid several flocks of sheep and numerous oystercatchers, swallows and housemartins. After a few kilometers we left the dyke and turned southward towards the village of Ternaard, from where we headed on towards Hantum, Hiaure and ultimately Dokkum. It was close to noon when we reached our destination; the St. Boniface park. In the four hours before that we covered some 18 kilometers, which included two rest stops (with free stories from Deacon Peter Vermaat).

In the park, the workshops had already begun, and I soon found myself with a meal ticket and the company of several friends. I also took the opportunity to walk around a bit and catch up with several people. In a thinly populated diocese like ours, it’s nice to be able to do that. Among those people was the bishop, who celebrated his birthday that day as well.

I had the impression that the day was well-attended, although perhaps not as well as last year. Still, the atmosphere was good, and even the usual chaos of a procession  getting readied for take-off was not too bad at all. Naturally, I was among four guys drafted to carry the bier with some of St. Boniface’s relics in the procession. An honour to be sure, although ignoring the photographers is a bit of a chore. One of them had the gall to tell me not to smile because it didn’t look solemn enough for his picture… This was even before the procession had begun and I was chatting with some friends near me.

The procession, which started at the parish church and ended at the park, was followed by Mass, offered by Bishop de Korte in concelebration with a handful of priests. It was a valid Mass, but I will not say too much about it, since it was also one of the most horizontal Masses I’ve ever witnessed. The sentiment in my previous post refers to this Mass as well. It was disconcerting.

All the same, I am glad I took the trouble and had the means to do the walk and meet up with friends in Dokkum. The weather, the landscape and the company all combined into a great day, and I consider the procession as a very good conclusion.

The sea at low tide
We still have all the dyke ahead of us

Deacon Peter Vermaat, the storyteller

The bishop mingles. That cat likely thought that all those people had come for him...
The relics of St. Boniface have pride of place in the procession. I am on the back corner, viewer's right.

Bishop de Korte gives his homily

St Boniface Day 2010

This week I read the first announcement for the St. Boniface Day of 2010, to be held on 13 June. And the best news is that the optional walk (pilgrimage is too big a word for it…) will follow the route of my first St. Boniface Day in 2006 (I think, might have been 2007): from the village of Nes along the coast and then south towards Dokkum. If the weather’s good it’s a great route to walk.

The annual St. Boniface Day is a day where, basically, everyone in the diocese can gather in Dokkum – the place where St. Boniface, the patron saint of our diocese, was martyred. There’ll be a procession and Mass, workshops (Leo Fijen will speak at one of these) and special events for people of all ages. It’s basically a lot of fun.

So I’m looking forward to that. Here are some impressions of last year’s Day:

The Frisian landscape in the early morning is pretty
A stained glass window of St. Boniface in the chapel named for him.
One of the workshops: make your own rosary
Reinstated only a few years ago, a procession from the parish church to the chapel
Four seminarians carry some of the relics of St. Boniface
Mass in the chapel