Bishops John S. Cummins and Allen H. Vigneron rub chrism oil into the altar at the dedication of the Cathedral of Christ the Light in 2008.
Greg Tarczynski/The Catholic Voice
The bishop at the cathedral, 2008
The celebrations surrounding Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ's, ordination and installation as the fifth bishop of Oakland were not the first time he had set foot in the Cathedral of Christ the Light.
The first time Bishop Barber saw the cathedral was as a ticket-holder.
He attended the dedication of the Cathedral of Christ the Light on Sept. 25, 2008.
The bishop recalls he had written in and requested a ticket. He attended with priests from St. Patrick's Seminary, where he was teaching as well as serving as spiritual director, and with priests from the seminary in Detroit, where then-Bishop Allen H. Vigneron had taught before coming to Oakland.
"I knew them because we were all spiritual directors in seminaries," he said. "We used to meet once a year."
At the end of the dedication Mass, the guests were invited to walk around the cathedral.
"The whole church smelled so beautiful, with the perfumed oil," Bishop Barber said, recalling that then-Bishop Vigneron had poured a pitcher of chrism on the altar, and rubbed it in, with oil dripping down the sides.
"When the ceremony was over, you could go around and to the sanctuary, and I saw oil dripping there. Just like you come in the church, and bless yourself, I said, 'That's holy oil,' and I took some and made the sign of the cross."
He did one more thing: "I kissed the altar," he said.
It would be at that same altar, almost five years later, that new chrism would be poured on his head, as he was ordained a bishop and installed as the fifth bishop of Oakland.
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