I don’t always sit through a three-hour Mass, but when I do I make sure to get a selfie with the Bishop who celebrated it.
Yes, this family of 7.5 survived a three-hour ordination and installation Mass of a Bishop and lived to tell the tale. Here’s our story.
We weren’t really sure what to expect except for one very long Mass when we headed out early for San Angelo. We opted to take the four bigs out of school (perk of attending Catholic school, no explanation needed!) so they could experience the big day. You see, we’ve known Fr. Mike Sis for nearly 19 years. He prepared Scott and I for marriage and for the last ten years, Scott has worked with him at the diocesan offices. He’s been to our house to dinner, recounted great stories for our children and shared our love for all things Aggie.
He is, indeed, a good and holy man.
We arrived in San Angelo just in time to eat our lunch in the van (Scott was smart enough to pack a ‘to-go’ lunch) and then head to the arena on the Angelo State University campus to find our seats. And wouldn’t you know it, there was a row of seats big enough for the Whitaker clan just in front of some pretty awesome Sisters.
While they played thumb wars with Luke and John Paul talked Sr. Maria’s ears off about his recent trip to NYC (she’s a Brooklyn native), Scott and I said some serious Hail Mary’s that the 2pm, right-in-the-middle-of-Luke’s-naptime-Mass, would go off well.
St. Jude heard our plea.
Before Mass, we spotted Anna-Laura’s Godfather, Fr. David, and Scott and I even ran into the couple who prepared US for marriage. How insanely awesome. The Barry’s continue to be a shining example to the two of us that good and holy marriages exist. They’re work, but they exist.
Mass began and Luke got antsy. It was back and forth, back and forth and the 200+ priests hadn’t even processed into the arena yet. Scott and I shared “the sigh” and “the look” and then smiled. What else can you do? For memory’s sake it’s worth noting that Master Luke finally gave it up around the homily mark and fell asleep in Scott’s arms and slept through the entire rest of the Mass. Miracle, I tell ya!
In very un-characteristic Kathryn form, I only pulled my camera out a few times to take photos, mostly at the beginning and end. For this moment, I just wanted to experience it with my own eyes, instead of through the camera lens. I don’t regret that decision. Scott took these four photos (below) with his phone. From L-R: Bishop Vasquez (current Austin bishop) laying hands on Bishop Sis; Abp. Aymond (former Austin bishop); Bishop Sis laying prostrate; Bishop Sis blessing the crowd.
I was amazed at the many priests, religious Sisters, deacons and bishops that were in attendance. They took up almost the entire floor of the arena! I think that sight alone caught my breath. For my non-Catholic readers, before a priest becomes a bishop he must first be ordained, then installed. If an existing bishop moves to a new diocese, he is simply installed because he’s already been ordained. For more details on all the parts of the Mass, visit the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). The most significant being when the priest becomes bishop.
The essential rite of the sacrament, i.e., when it takes place, is the laying on of hands and prayer of consecration. This is an ancient tradition in the Church, mentioned in the Bible. – USCCB
Reflecting back upon the three-hour Mass, I was struck by many things but primarily at how awesome our God is. Perhaps this one felt more personal – because it was. We’ve come to know and love Fr. Mike over nearly two decades, so to see him called to the office of Bishop, to shepherd a diocese and have the opportunity to affect generations of Catholics – it was all just too much. His dad is a deacon and read not only the Gospel, but held the Book of Gospels over his son’s head as he was ordained. Y’ALL. A girl can’t take that much.
Yes, I cried. I believe Anna-Laura looked over at me and said, “Mom, are you crying or are your eyes just wet?” Both, honey.
Then, we were able to really let loose and cheer all we wanted when he made the rounds of the arena and conducted his first blessings as Bishop. So much whooping. So much clapping. So much crying. So much smiling.
At the end, Bishop Mike (and for the record, I’m just not sure I’ll ever get used to saying that) shared his “three things” with us. He’s infamous for counting, beginning with his thumb. Holla to the Aggies. His three things? Gratitude, prayer and hope. To hear the full remarks from the man himself (and all those Aggies whooping), you can visit Whispers in the Loggia or just click on the link below (H/T to Whispers).
Fr. Mike, er Bishop Sis, is known for saying that, as Christians, God calls us to “bloom where we’re planted.” No doubt, West Texas just got a heck of a flower delivery. Afterward, we waited in the million mile long line and finally captured some photos and received a blessing, but not before Scott made Fr. Mike drink some water!
It was the loveliest of days, seeing so many familiar faces, witnessing that much love, seeing that much of God’s goodness.
I think what I’m saying is that if you ever get the chance to participate in a bishop’s ordination, DO IT.
To see some really spectacular photos, go visit the Abilene paper, Reporter News.