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CURRENT ISSUE:  May 11, 2009
VOL. 47, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page story
Catholics to lawmakers: ‘Don’t shred safety net’ for state’s poor
Bishop Cordileone installed in Oakland
(Also see special feature stories and photo gallery)

Archbishop Pietro Sambi (second from left), apostolic nuncio to the United States, and San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer (right), assisted by Father Paul Minnihan (left), cathedral provost, hand the crozier to Bishop Salvatore Cordileone during the bishop’s installation Mass.

A standing ovation with sustained applause greeted Bishop Salvatore Cordileone as he took his place at the cathedra (chair) of Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light, May 5, the culminating moment of his installation as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Oakland.

The ritual began with Bishop Cordileone knocking three times on the closed cathedral doors. When the doors opened, he greeted San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, then walked with them down the center aisle to the altar.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles praises the Oak-land Diocese for its “wonderful pastoral ministry and spirit of zeal.”
“This is a new beginning of the diocese,” Archbishop Sambi said moments later as he offered “heartfelt congratulations and reassurance of prayers,” to Bishop Cordileone before reading the official letter from Pope Benedict XVI appointing the 52-year-old auxiliary bishop of San Diego as chief shepherd of Oakland.

More than 1300 people, including Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, 25 bishops, 175 priests and 65 deacons, crowded into the cathedral for the noon Mass. Another 200 people watched the two-hour liturgy on wide screens placed in the cathedral conference center.

Oakland’s two previous bishops, Bishop Emeritus John Cummins and Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, stood with Bishop Cordileone during much of the installation ritual.

The bishop’s mother, Mary Cordileone, and other family members sat in the first rows.

“I am just full of joy,” said his aunt Connie Borsellino, who had traveled from San Diego to witness the installation. “He has been a real special person since he was a child. We knew that some day he would make a contribution.”

In his homily, Bishop Cordileone spoke of the challenge of bringing the love of Christ to a nation that has become at times “downright inhospitable” to immigrants, the terminally ill and others “who may place a burden on us,” criminals seeking repentance and rehabilitation, and “the most defenseless of our brothers and sisters who are not even given a chance to be born.”

“This inhospitality, this hostility,” he said, “creates a tsunami of moral and physical violence which leaves countless damaged and destroyed lives in its wake.”

“This is not what God has created us for. . . . He created us for joy. That is why he gives us the commandment to love one another.”

Citing the five-year diocesan pastoral plan as a practical way to show that “Christ is the answer,” he said he is looking forward to “working with all of you, priests and priestly people of Oakland, to implement this plan.”

“I really like the action plans,” he said. “I like action. It translates ideas into reality.”

Holy Spirit Sister RayMonda DuVall, executive director of Catholic Charities of San Diego, praised Bishop Cordileone for his leadership and commitment to social justice. During his time as chair of the Catholic Charities’ board of directors, he helped the agency tackle some challenging problems, she said. “The bishop has a tremendous compassion for the poor.”

He also has “great people skills,” said Margot Kyd who served with Bishop Cordileone on the Board of Trustees of the University of San Diego. Added USD President Mary Lyons, who claims Oakland as her home diocese, “his intellect and credentials are impeccable.”

Local enthusiasm for the new bishop permeated the reception that followed the installation Mass. “He was warm and welcoming,” said Joann Mass, business manager at St. Anthony Parish in Oakland. “He is so filled with the spirit that it moved my heart,” said Thelma Orias, a member of St. Anne Parish in Union City.

Harry McVey, a member of St. Michael Parish in Livermore who took the day off work to attend the Mass, called the liturgy “awesome,” the same word used by eight-year-old Sarah Ryan who left her third-grade classroom at St. Agnes School in Concord to attend with her parents.

Several other elementary school students attended with their principals. Christian Mulligan, a seventh grader at St. Mary School in Walnut Creek, liked the choir the best. “They had so many good voices,” he said.

The liturgy reflected the rich ethnic diversity of the diocese with Scripture readings in Spanish and Tigrinya, the language of Eritrea. The intercessory prayers were spoken in Vietnamese, Tongan, Tagalog, Korean, English, Igbo, and Italian, Bishop Cordileone’s ancestral language. Members of the Latino, Chinese and Brazilian communities presented the Offertory gifts.

Bishop Cordileone, who is fluent in Italian and Spanish, is a member of the U.S. bishops’ task force on cultural diversity. He was pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Calexico for four years and showed delight at the Mexican-themed reception held after the installation. Mariachis serenaded on the cathedral plaza as the bishop greeted his new flock.

Bishop Cordileone was scheduled to celebrate the 2 p.m. Spanish Mass in the cathedral on May 11.

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