|Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone leaves the altar of St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco after being installed as the city's ninth archbishop.
Dennis Callahan/Catholic San Francisco
On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi in the city of St. Francis, the Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone was installed as the ninth Archbishop of San Francisco at St. Mary's Cathedral, and found inspiration in that patron saint to whom Jesus had said, "Francis, rebuild my house."
Thus, on Oct. 4 at a Mass of Installation, with some 40 other bishops from around the world and more than 250 priests and 64 deacons participating, Archbishop Cordileone began his work as shepherd to more than a half million Catholics of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties and, with a word he used, as a collaborator with 416 priests, to help people get to holiness.
"To you my flock here in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, please know how much I am looking forward to getting to know you all and together with you crafting a vision and plan for furthering the new evangelization here and so continue the good work that has been carried on in this local church for over 150 years," said Archbishop Cordileone, 56, who had been named bishop of Oakland in 2009 and served until being named archbishop of San Francisco on July 27.
He served as apostolic administrator in Oakland until taking his seat in San Francisco at the Oct. 4 Mass. The Most Rev. Alexander Brunett, archbishop emeritus of Seattle, is serving as apostolic administrator in Oakland until the pope names a new bishop.
Outside the cathedral, protestors denouncing the archbishop's opposition to same-sex marriage held forth, but the two-hour Mass was without interruption and the only competition for the attention of the capacity crowd was the occasional fly over by the Blue Angels.
The Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, presided, and Msgr. C. Michael Padazinski, the chancellor of the archdiocese, read the apostolic letter from Pope Benedict XVI making the appointment of the archbishop, and his transfer from Oakland. "After consultation with the Congregation for Bishops, we judge you, venerable brother, endowed as you are with proven qualities and much pastoral experience, to be suitable for governing" the archdiocese, the letter read.
The new archbishop, with humility and a dash of self-deprecating humor, mentioned in his homily that "God has always had a way of putting me in my place with little and sometimes big ways of reminding me of my need to depend upon him and to attend to the work of my own rebuilding from within." He added, "I would say, though, that with the latest episode of my life God has outdone himself" — a reference to his Aug. 25 arrest for driving under the influence in San Diego. According to court records, he pleaded guilty on Oct. 1 to a reduced charge of reckless driving, was fined and given three years' probation.
At the time, he said he hoped that something good would come of it, and, indeed, something good has happened, he said — "the outpouring of love and support and promises of prayers," making it clear that "most people have an instinctive sense of compassion and are naturally inclined to reach out to anyone who is hurting and in need of being bolstered by the moral support that only the solidarity of friendship can offer," he said.
That's a building block, he said, one of the building blocks that St. Francis used in rebuilding God's house "as his house manifests itself in the different communities to which we belong."
Archbishop Cordileone began the homily saying, "Francis, rebuild my house," a reference to Christ's instruction to St. Francis as he prayed in the dilapidated San Damian, a church with a monastery near Assisi. St. Francis did repair it, using the original foundation, but Christ's words had a much deeper spiritual significance, said the archbishop.
St. Francis' time was one of spiritual unrest, not unlike this time, and St. Francis' response "was as timeless as it was simple — holiness." The story and message is as applicable to our time as they were to St. Francis' as well as to any number of other periods in the history of the church, said Archbishop Cordileone.
"Of course, as our father Francis teaches us, the work of rebuilding must necessarily begin within each one of us, clergy, consecrated religious, lay faithful," he said.
He mentioned his grandfather, a fisherman who had settled in San Francisco to start a new and better life. "If someone had told him that in 100 years' time his grandson would become the archbishop of this place I'm sure he would have thought that they were out of their minds. Apparently, there are people who think that today," he said to laughter.
He spoke, too, of Pope Benedict XVI, who called for a Year of Faith, during which time — again, a time of spiritual unrest — when Catholics will take a fresh look at Vatican II. "It is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, our one savior of the world," said Archbishop Cordileone.
At a reception that followed, Jeff Bialik, the executive director of Catholic Charities in San Francisco, said he thought that building a homily on St. Francis was an ideal tone and start for the archbishop. He added, "It was a terrific introduction for those of us in the archdiocese who don't know him too well. He showed us a spiritual side, a pastoral side, a sense of humor, a sense of family and his roots in the city of St. Francis."
Father George E. Mockel, moderator of the curia in the Diocese of Oakland, who was asked if the archbishop was affected by his critics in the marriage debate, said he was not. "This is a man of principle and integrity, and he doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk," he said.
Father Brian Costello, the pastor of Most Holy Redeemer Church in San Francisco, said he liked the word "collaborator" that the archbishop had used. "That is so important," he said, "because it is all of us working toward the same goal."
(Additional reporting by The Catholic Voice.)
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