At welcome prayer service, archbishop calls for putting people first

| Susan Klemond | May 13, 2016 | 0 Comments
Archbishop Bernard Hebda kisses a crucifix held by Father John Bauer, pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, at the start of the Rite of Reception May 12 at the Basilica. Archbishop Hebda knocked on the outside door to start the event, then was presented with the crucifix upon entering.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda kisses a crucifix held by Father John Bauer, pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, at the start of the Rite of Reception May 12 at the Basilica. Archbishop Hebda knocked on the outside door to start the event, then was presented with the crucifix upon entering. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

At a prayer service on the eve of Archbishop-designate Bernard Hebda’s installation, which highlighted the ethnic and cultural diversity in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and local community, the archbishop celebrated that diversity and encouraged collaboration on efforts that place people first.

The May 12 celebration of welcome and evening prayer at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis included Aztec and folkloric Mexican dance and music, and poetry from a variety of cultures. In a homily following a reading from Genesis about the Tower of Babel, Archbishop Hebda drew on the themes of tragedy and hope illustrated by the story.

The tower builders’ downfall was placing things over people, and in the archdiocese, he said, “I’m confident that the Lord will bless our endeavors and bring fruit to our labor to the extent that we remember to put people before things.”

Citing social justice efforts such as the new Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul, which has drawn the support of people of different religious traditions, the archbishop emphasized the importance of collaboration and being shrewd with resources while focusing on human needs.

“If our work is to succeed, our work has to be God’s work,” he said.

The event took place on the vigil of Archbishop Hebda’s May 13 installation as the ninth archbishop of the archdiocese at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. At the service, he made a profession of faith and an oath of fidelity.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda greets Sen. Amy Klobuchar after she gave remarks at the Rite of Reception May 12 at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Archbishop Bernard Hebda greets Sen. Amy Klobuchar after she gave remarks at the Rite of Reception May 12 at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Among the 800 attendees were civic leaders, as well as Catholic and other religious leaders, including Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba; State Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie; and representatives of local Jewish communities.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar praised Archbishop Hebda’s “thoughtfulness, joyfulness and down-to-earth manner,” and encouraged him to put in practice in the archdiocese Pope Francis’ interpretation of the Golden Rule of “treating others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.”

Five of the Basilica’s 10 choirs performed a range of music, including a new composition of the Magnificat by Father J. Michael Joncas, commissioned for the installation.

Publicly welcoming the archbishop were delegations from other Christian denominations and faiths, and archdiocesan clergy and religious, as well as ethnic groups, many wearing native dress.

Lisa Yankton, a member of the Spirit Lake Dakota and of Gichitwaa Kateri Catholic Church in Minneapolis, shared her poem “The Journey,” dedicated to the archbishop:

“…From the east, your footsteps come towards us …
We humble and devoted people of the Blessed Kateri Community
Encircle you, smile upon you …”

Pope Francis named Archbishop Hebda to St. Paul and Minneapolis March 24. He had been serving in a temporary role as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator since last June, as well as coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. Before being named archbishop for St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Pittsburgh native had been dividing his time between Newark and the Twin Cities.

Antonio Azamar attended the prayer service with members of the Latino community at St. Stephen in Anoka to welcome Archbishop Hebda.

“His words are inspiring us to believe and let other people believe in our Church,” Azamar said, adding that he hopes the archbishop will bring healing in clergy sex abuse issues.

“Hopefully, with him, all these problems get solved, and we establish a good relation with people outside the Church,” he said.

Laurie Svatek appreciated the attention to diversity at the prayer service, which she said was a sign of hope for the archdiocese. Svatek, who is the director of campus ministry at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, attended one of the archbishop’s listening sessions last fall and said she was impressed with his attentiveness.

“I think it’s something that this community will greatly benefit from having in leadership,” she said. “I just see it as an incredible gift, and I think the gifts that he brings are exactly what this community really wants from him.”

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Category: Featured, Welcome Archbishop Hebda