Catholic Priesthood

The Episcopal Ordination of my college friend, Steven J. Lopes

On Tuesday night, in Houston, Texas, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, on the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (Candlemas), I attended the Episcopal Ordination of my long time college friend, Steven J. Lopes. I met Bishop Lopes nearly 22 years ago when I transferred into the Saint Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco in the Fall of 1994.

Bishop Steven J. Lopes

Although I have been to Ordinations to the Priesthood, this was my first Episcopal Ordination, and it couldn’t have been any better, especially since it was for someone I personally know. It’s very difficult to explain to you through this limited space the pageantry, pomp, beauty, and sacredness that was the Episcopal Ordination Mass of Bishop Steven J. Lopes. The sheer excitement that began during the day at the hotel and then reaching its peak during the Mass is still penetrating my heart and mind. I think the 24 hours I spent in Houston for this occasion will be with me over the next few weeks as I continue to share it with parishioners at my parish as well as with friends who were unable to attend.

Not to make light of the ordination by any means, but as we were making our way to the cathedral from the hotel, which was a very short bus ride, I said to my three other friends, one a Benedictine brother and one a religious sister, “Between the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious, and so many Lay Faithful, tonight is like Catholic Candy Land.”

There are many things that stood out for me during the course of the three-hour Episcopal Ordination, but if I had to narrow it down to three things, it would be the Liturgy itself, the beautiful sacred music, and the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop. The Mass resembled the structure of the Roman Liturgy, but with some nuances from the Anglican tradition. It was very much a “high mass” which I have come to enjoy as I learn more about the liturgy. The Prayer of Humble Access before Holy Communion and the Prayer of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion, both said by everyone who received Our Lord in the Eucharist, reminded me of the Eastern liturgies I have been to in the past. Both prayers reflect the beauty of the Church’s sacramental theology.

Bishop Lopes and I at the reception following his Episcopal Ordination.

Bishop Lopes and I at the reception following his Episcopal Ordination.

The second aspect of the Mass was the intense and most profound sacred music. I am in my early 40’s, which means I grew up with mundane liturgical music that often contradicted Catholic theology in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Although I have been exposed to beautiful sacred music since, the music at the ordination was beyond superb and spiritually elevated us right into heaven and brought heaven down to us. The choir was composed of three individual choirs – the choir from Our Lady of Walsingham Parish (now the Cathedral), the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Choir and the Archdiocesan Choir. If you watch the remarks from the Bishop here, you will get a taste of what the choir brought to the liturgy.

The third and final aspect of the Mass that I enjoyed was the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop. This rite began with the Principal Consecrator, His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and concluded with Bishop Steven J. Lopes taking the reigns from him and finishing the liturgy. The Rite of Ordination of a Bishop had numerous parts. They are:

  1. Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, Holy Ghost)
  2. Presentation of the Bishop-Elect
  3. Reading of the Apostolic Letter (official document from Pope Francis)
  4. Assent of the People (all responded with – Thanks be to God)
  5. Homily
  6. Examination of the Candidate (asked numerous questions regarding his episcopal ordination)
  7. Invitation to Prayer (all pray for Bishop-elect)
  8. Litany of Supplication (Litany of the Saints)
  9. Laying On of Hands
  10. Prayer of Consecration (Book of the Gospels held above the head of Bishop-elect) and Prayer of Ordination recited (Calling down of the Holy Spirit)
  11. Anointing of the Bishop’s Head (with Oil)
  12. Presentation of the Book of the Gospels (Teaching is a duty of the Bishop; other two duties – Sanctify and Govern).
  13. Investiture with Ring, Mitre, and Pastoral Staff
  14. Seating of the Bishop and Kiss of Peace (from this moment Bishop Lopes became the primary presider of the Liturgy).

There is so much I could say about each part, however, this blog post would end up being 2500 plus words in length and far too long for a reasonable post. If you ever get the chance to attend an Episcopal Ordination, my suggestion is – take it! It’s by far one of the most amazing liturgies I have experienced. With liturgies such as this one, it makes me very glad and blessed to be a Catholic.

Embracing and wishing Bishop Lopes congratulations.

Embracing and wishing Bishop Lopes congratulations.

As I did in my blog post back in November, I implore that you pray for Bishop Steven J. Lopes. Please pray three Hail Mary’s through the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham as he begins his new ministry as Shepherd of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

To learn more about the Ordinariate, please visit their website. I would also encourage you to Like their Facebook page. I did.

Our Lady of Walsingham…Pray for Us.

This blog post is dedicated to the Bishop himself, Steven J. Lopes. Thank you for your friendship, guidance, and overall support these many years. Unfortunately, I never made it to Rome while you were there. I pray that you will be a good Shepherd to your flock.

10 replies »

  1. Congratulations on the great blessing of the episcopal ordination of your friend. A friend of my family’s was named and ordained a bishop in 2002, and it was surreal to attend his ordination and be witnesses to his ministry since. My only small disappointment with the ordination liturgy the other evening was that it was not offered “ad orientem” at the liturgy of the Eucharist. I feel this is a hallmark of most Ordinariate parishes, including the one right in Houston. On further reflection, however, the number of concelebrants present in the sanctuary may not have made this traditional liturgical orientation feasible or convenient. The prayers and music of the liturgy itself were quite moving though. Thanks for your post and once again, many congratulations on your friend Bishop Lopes.

    • Yes, Emilio, I was hoping for the “ad orientem” too but I think you said it correctly, the massive amount of concelebrants in the sanctuary would have made it more difficult.

  2. The combined choir at the ordination also included the choir of Our Lady of Walsingham Church (now Cathedral), and the whole choir was under the direction of Walsingham’s music director, Edmund Murray.

  3. Please don’t take these questions the wrong way. I don’t understand the name the surname LOPEZ is associated with Anglicanism unless he was from Gibraltar? I am also of the opinion Anglicanism is Anglo centric. I’m trying to reason my way through this. I suppose Anglicans in Africa were the unhappy victims of the wrong missionaries arriving. Those Africans who were converted to in the 19th century and since then have African surnames. How did someone with a Latin American background end up in Anglicanism? Surely he was baptised in the Latin rite then drifted towards Anglicanism. Even then he would be a Latin Rite not where he is now. Surely there has to be and should be some cultural ethnic link to Anglicanism?

    • Dear John,
      Bishop Lopes (not Lopez by the way – Lopes is Portuguese) was never an Anglican, but was the official in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith most closely concerned with the setting up of the Ordinariates, the vetting of the hundreds of candidates for the priesthood, the drafting of the Ordinariate “Divine Worship” liturgy, etc. (Bishop Lopes’ remarks at the end of his ordination put all this in context – you can view them on the Ordinariate website.)
      So he is very much a bridge between the former Anglicans and the See of Peter. It was evident at the ordination that Bishop Lopes is still not 100% familiar with the Anglican prayers, but he is learning fast.
      David Murphy
      Ordinariate Expats

      • Anglicanism is anglophile and I would think one suspicion exAnglicans have is they will lose their identity. Within the English Catholic Church and society there is an anti Irish element that also makes Anglicans distrustful. For obvious historical reasons there is an anti Spanish sentiment within Anglicanism. How will placing someone who has no ethnic/ cultural links to Anglicanism earn trust? Would placing an English bishop in Spain be met with happiness? I think not. In the USA Episcopalians are WASPs. I would not feel reassured if my bishop did not understand or have a link with my ethnicity and religious culture. You mention he was not familiar with the Anglican prayers. I notice his Episcopal Consecration and Mass were not traditional being Eastward facing, For Anglicans this is an important point because not using Cramner tables instead of altars and facing east was settled and recovered during the time of Archbishop Laud. I am sure the Ordinariate don’t want to be colonised by elements of the banal and deformed modern 1970 Rite of Mass.

  4. Tom,
    I was at Bishop Steve’s ordination and was planning to write a review to send to my friends. Your review is amazing and far better than any I can write. Would you mind if I just send the link to this — you will be fully credited.

  5. Truly inspirational and I pray an inspiration to those in the Anglican community who wish to be part of the world wide Catholic (in the best universal sense) Church. As a result of the efforts of the Popes of the last half of the 20th century and our present Pope Francis, it is now clear that there are a number of pews in one Church. The fear of Roman Latin dominance is fast fading and hopefully will engender a continuing feeling of colleagialism among the different rites of the One Church.

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