It was the first time in 21 years that a son of the diocese was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the diocese. The last time was June 7, 2001, when Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries and Bishop Martin Amos, retired bishop of Davenport, Iowa, were ordained to the episcopate.
That fact didn’t escape Bishop Woost, who asked both men to be co-consecrators at his ordination. Bishop Edward Malesic was the ordaining bishop.
The ordination liturgy took place in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, at which time Bishop Woost was able to shed the bishop-elect title, which he had used since his appointment was announced on May 9.
(See photo gallery above.)
After members of the presbyterate and other invited guests filed into the cathedral, Bishop Woost and his two brothers who are diocesan priests entered the church. Father Dave Woost, pastor of Divine Word Parish in Kirtland, and Father Tom Woost, pastor of St. Brendan Parish in North Olmsted, accompanied their older brother to the tabernacle where they spent a few minutes in silent prayer. They joined members of the presbyteral council, visiting bishops and other clergy processing along Superior Avenue onto East Ninth Street, up the newly rebuilt front steps of the cathedral and into the church.
Bishop Malesic greeted those attending the liturgy and those watching the livestream.
“It is a great day for the Diocese of Cleveland as we ordain one of our own sons, one of our own priests, as our next auxiliary bishop,” he said.
The bishop welcomed Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, Msgr. Seamus Horgan, who represented Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio, the other bishops in attendance – including Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Perez, his predecessor – the priests, deacons, lay ecclesial ministers, religious sisters, diocesan staff, ecumenical leaders, seminarians, seminary faculty, family and friends of Bishop Woost.
“Welcome back, Archbishop Perez. I am so happy that you return from time to time to visit your former home here in Ohio. And no, you still can’t have it back,” he quipped.
The rite of ordination took place after the Gospel. Father Don Oleksiak, diocesan vicar general, presented Bishop Woost and Msgr. Horgan read the apostolic mandate from Pope Francis announcing Bishop Woost’s appointment. The congregation responded, “Thanks be to God,” after which Bishop Woost, accompanied by his priest brothers, showed the mandate to Bishop Malesic and the other bishops before he walked around the cathedral displaying the document.
Bishop Malesic delivered his homily, recalling how he blessed and consecrated the sacred oils at the annual chrism Mass on April 12 – just a few weeks before Bishop Woost learned of his new position. The new bishop served as master of ceremonies for the liturgy, a position he had for many years.
Bishop Malesic recalled that in one of the photos from the Mass, then-Father Woost was standing next to him as he breathed over the oil of chrism, calling down the Holy Spirit upon it. “As I was doing that, I was also praying silently to myself that we might use some of that chrism in the ordination of an auxiliary bishop to help me shepherd this diocese. Today God has answered my prayers and the prayers of many others. We will use that chrism to anoint our new auxiliary bishop,” he said. “After today, I am taking three months off. Just kidding … probably,” he quipped, as the congregation laughed.
Bishop Malesic mentioned that Bishop Larry Kulick, who replaced him in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, also was at the Mass. He recalled Bishop Kulick’s episcopal ordination when Archbishop Perez poured the oil of chrism on his head. “The oil never seemed to stop flowing,” he said.
“Today, Bishop-elect Woost, we also make you a member of the college of bishops – one of our brothers. May our unity as bishops be evident to all in the Church and the oil of gladness flow from one to the other as brothers dwelling together as one,” he said.
He told the new bishop that what makes him a bishop is not the chrism, but the laying-on of hands. “Just as Jesus was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, Jesus sent 12 apostles into the world. Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, they were to preach the Gospel, gather the people into one flock, sanctify and lead them. In order for that this ministry might remain until the end of time, the apostles in turn chose helpers for themselves,” he said. “Through the laying-on of hands, the apostles passed on to their successors the gift of the Holy Spirit that they themselves had received from Christ,” Bishop Malesic said. The tradition, handed down from the beginning, through the unbroken succession of bishops, is preserved from generation to generation, he said, and the work of the Savior continues and grows.
Bishop Malesic offered some advice to the new bishop, telling him to remain humble, be a man of prayer, have the salvation of souls always in mind, preach the Gospel, live the truth he proclaims, stand strong against the headwinds that seem to blow hard against us, defend us against the culture of death, conquer hatred with love, be devoted to our people, walk among them and listen to them. “Celebrate the liturgy with reverence just as you have taught others for many years as a seminary professor. Bridge the gaps of division that seem to be tearing us apart from one another, sometimes even in the Church. Again, it is best when we live together in harmony as one Church, with one faith and one Lord.”
He noted Aug. 4 is the feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests. St. John Vianney said that priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. “Be the beating heart of the love that Jesus has for the world. Reveal his presence to us,” the bishop said, referring to Bishop Woost’s episcopal motto, “Reveal your presence.”
He reminded Bishop Woost that he was chosen by the Lord, “taken from among the people and appointed to act on their behalf in those things that pertain to God.” The title of bishop signifies a task, not an honor. He also urged the new bishop to love those God places in his care and to keep watch over the flock.
The ordination continued with the new bishop lying on the cathedral floor as the litany of supplication was sung. The laying-on of hands, the prayer of ordination, handing on the Book of Gospels, presentation of the insignia – the ring, miter and crosier – seating of the new bishop and the fraternal kiss concluded the rite.
After Mass, Bishop Woost offered some brief remarks, noting how grateful he is to God for his 63 years of life and to Pope Francis for the call to serve as a bishop, “as a shepherd in the midst of God’s people. It is extremely humbling,” he said.
The new bishop also offered his thanks to Archbishop Pierre for his encouragement and prayer, and Msgr. Horgan for representing the nuncio.
“Thank you to my brother bishops. I am grateful for your welcoming me into the College of Bishops and for your support and prayers,” he said. In addition, he thanked Bishop Malesic for his support and encouragement, wisdom and laughter in their conversations during the past few months. “It has been a real blessing,” he said.
He also offered thanks to the priests, including his brothers, saying, “It is a privilege to be your brother in ordained ministry. And I remain that – your brother. We have an awesome presbyterate,” he added.
Scanning the cathedral, Bishop Woost thanked everyone for their contributions to the Church. “You are the Body of Christ,” he said.
To the seminary community, including the seminarians, he asked that God who has begun good work in them bring it to conclusion. And to his family, he expressed his love and said his parents would be proud of all seven of their sons.
“Together we go forth in thanksgiving for God’s gifts and for one another, aware, as St. John Vianney was, that our God ‘is so filled with love that he seeks us everywhere.’ With hearts filled with gratitude, with faith and hope and love, let us offer a simple prayer: Dearest God, Father, Son and Spirit, reveal your presence.”
After posing for photos with his family and others in the cathedral, the celebration continued with a reception. Later, Bishop Woost went to St. Wendelin Parish in Cleveland to catch part of the Hillbilly Thomists concert and to lead night prayer.