Jan 7, 2014

Rochester installation marks first new bishop there in 33 years



(CNS photos/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)

By Mike Latona
Catholic News Service

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CNS) -- At 3 p.m. on Jan. 3, with applause ringing through a full Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano took his seat in the cathedra (bishop's chair), marking the beginning of his ministry as the ninth Bishop of Rochester.

The installation Mass was the first in Rochester since 1979, when Bishop Matthew H. Clark began his 33-year tenure. Bishop Clark, 76, retired in September 2012. Bishop Matano had been bishop of Burlington, Vt., for eight years.

After being installed by apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Bishop Matano, 67, emphasized in his homily that "I'm not the only Catholic in this diocese. If I have challenges, then we all have challenges. It is the responsibility of every baptized Catholic to fulfill faithfully what Christ asks of us."

He stressed the importance of regular attendance at Sunday Mass: "All that we do as a people of faith stems from our attachment to the holy Eucharist."

The ceremony on a frigid, snowy day was attended by bishops and cardinals from across the country. Others were kept away by the harsh conditions, including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who had been scheduled to preside.

Since Bishop Clark's retirement took effect, the Rochester see had been vacant, with Bishop Robert Cunningham of Syracuse, N.Y., serving as apostolic administrator.

In his homily, Bishop Matano alluded to the bitter weather, observing, "I asked, how could I make today memorable? I looked to the heavens and said, 'Let there be snow.'"

The native of Providence, R.I., thanked people who have supported him through the years, including family, friends, brethren and people of the Burlington Diocese. In expressing enthusiasm for his new home, he took special note of Bishop Clark, extending his thanks for his warm welcome and observing, "you are a true canonical icon of stability in this office," and setting off a round of applause for Bishop Clark.

Bishop Matano also paid tribute to the many priests in attendance, saying, "Let us remember that without the priesthood, there is no Eucharist. And without the Eucharist, the Catholic Church loses its identity."

He also noted the importance of other vocations, including religious and married life. He said all Catholics play a key role in strengthening the church.

Bishop Matano said the current culture is often marked by indifference and even anger toward the church -- a drastic change from the 1950s, when Catholicism in the United States thrived on many levels.

For those who are estranged from the church, Bishop Matano implored, "Please come home. This is not the plea of Bishop Matano -- this is only his voice echoing the voice of Jesus."

He concluded his homily by asking Catholics to practice evangelization -- "because we are called to love another, we must tell them the truth of our Catholic faith" -- and to defend life and "the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death."

  • Mike Latona is a staff writer for the Catholic Courier, newspaper of the Rochester Diocese.