Archbishop Hebda: Pallium a reminder to be a shepherd

| December 19, 2016 | 2 Comments

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., invests Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis with a pallium at the beginning of Mass Dec. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Bishops from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota attended the Mass. The dioceses of the three states form a province, with Archbishop Hebda serving as the Metropolitan. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

In front of hundreds of Catholics who braved frigid cold to witness the moment, Archbishop Bernard Hebda received his pallium at a special Mass Dec. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

Among them were bishops from dioceses in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. After the opening prayer, Archbishop Hebda knelt before the altar as Archbishop Pierre conferred the pallium with a short prayer, placing the small white vestment over his shoulders.

Once wearing the pallium, Archbishop Hebda stood and embraced Archbishop Pierre as the congregation applauded.

The pallium signifies a special relationship between an archbishop and bishops of nearby dioceses. The archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis is metropolitan archbishop of a province that includes the dioceses in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. As metropolitan archbishop, Archbishop Hebda offers fraternal support to the other bishops.

The pallium also symbolizes an archbishop’s relationship to the pope, who also wears a pallium. In June, Pope Francis blessed Archbishop Hebda’s pallium at a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Archbishop Hebda received the vestment then, but could not wear it until its conferral.

In remarks near the end of the afternoon Mass, Archbishop Hebda said he was honored to receive the pallium and to serve as metropolitan archbishop.

His pallium’s six crosses and three “nails” — pins given to him by friends from Pittsburgh — “will remind me that I am obligated to unite myself always to the cross as I follow Christ,” he said.

“I am well aware that the pallium is by no means a sign of honor, but a reminder of the call to be a shepherd who is called to seek out and carry the lost sheep, and who serves in harmony with our universal shepherd, Pope Francis,” he said.

“The Holy Father sets the bar high for all of us, but by his own example gives us the hope that we can indeed be those joyful instruments of mercy that our God desires us to be,” he said. “I am committed … to leading this Church to be the field hospital that Pope Francis describes, going out to the peripheries to bring the salve of Christ’s love to those who feel abandoned, those who are alone, and sadly those who have been hurt in the past by some who have the privilege of ministering in the person of Christ, or in the name of the Church.”

‘To be a good shepherd’

Archbishop Pierre preached the homily. He spoke of the various roles of a bishop, including following Christ’s model of being the Good Shepherd.

“It is simple, yet [it] has great and important meaning,” he said of the pallium, which is made of wool. “It is a reminder to the metropolitan archbishop and all the faithful that the particular vocation and mission of every bishop is none other than to be a good shepherd — a shepherd who places his sheep, whether sick or weak, upon his shoulders and guides him, cares for him, and leads him to the source of the living water.”

Tying a bishop’s role to symbols of Advent and Christmas, Archbishop Pierre noted that sheep and shepherds were among the first to see Jesus after his birth. He also tied the shepherd symbolism to Calvary.

“In Jesus, God comes to save his people, and Jesus saves by giving his life for his sheep when, in obedience, he offered himself freely and fully as an acceptable sacrifice upon the cross,” he said. “This is what it means to be a Good Shepherd: to give life, to offer one’s life in sacrifice for everyone.”

In April, Pope Francis named Archbishop Pierre to serve as his U.S. representative. Previously the apostolic nuncio to Mexico, he replaced Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who retired earlier this year, and who had sent a representative to listening sessions Archbishop Hebda held last year as apostolic administrator of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Among the concelebrating bishops were Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens and Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn, who led the archdiocese from 1995 to 2008. He received his pallium from Pope John Paul II in 1995.

Also in attendance were Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston, Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth, Bishop John Folda of Fargo, Bishop John LeVoir of New Ulm, Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City, Bishop Paul Swain of Sioux Falls, Bishop Donald Kettler of St. Cloud and Bishop John Quinn of Winona. Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck and Bishop Paul Swain of Sioux Falls were unable to attend.

Representatives from each of the province’s 10 dioceses participated in the procession at the beginning of Mass, accompanying 5-foot-tall silk banners with their diocese’s name and crest. More than 75 priests and 35 deacons also vested for the Mass.

Before the final blessing, Archbishop Hebda thanked Archbishop Pierre for traveling to Minnesota for the Mass.

“I hope that you have felt welcomed in the Province of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and have experienced the warmth of our faithful in spite of the chill outside these walls,” he said, referring to the weekend’s subzero temperatures.

“In the seven months that I have been here as archbishop, I have been inspired by the resilience of the Catholic faithful in this part of the Lord’s vineyard and their great love for Christ’s Church,” he said. “It helps that they are served by the finest bishops in our nation, and I am grateful for their presence in such great number here today as well.”

He said he wanted Archbishop Pierre to communicate to Pope Francis “gratitude for his leadership and most especially his ministry of unity and communion,” as well as an affection for the pope and appreciation for his closeness to the province, which Archbishop Pierre’s presence reflected.

Praiseworthy history

Archbishop Hebda also outlined the province’s history and contribution to the Church. In a nod to Archbishop Pierre’s French nationality, Archbishop Hebda noted the area’s first European explorers were French, as were the first priest and bishop to serve what would become the archdiocese, Father Lucien Galtier and Bishop Joseph Cretin. He pointed out that the geographical area covered by the province nearly equaled that of France.

Archbishop Hebda praised the province’s varied scenery in plains, forests and lakes, its contributions in industry and agriculture, and its immigrant communities who built its churches.

He noted the contributions of the province’s men and women religious in Catholic education, health care and charity. He also highlighted the province’s seminaries and asked the seminarians present to stand for the congregation to show their appreciation through applause.

He praised the collaboration of permanent deacons and “highly educated, highly engaged and unquestionably committed” laity.

Archbishop Hebda also thanked his siblings for flying from “85-degree Florida” for the Mass.

“I was delighted that my nephew will be able to go home and brag to my father that he sat outside sipping hot chocolate when it was minus 18 degrees this morning,” he said to laughter.

Benjamin Hersey, a parishioner of St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, attended the Mass with his wife and young children.

“I like the idea of the pallium and the symbolism of the unity with the Roman pontiff,” he said. “This is a new event, and we’re part of the local Church, so we all wanted to be here.”

Sarah Ciccone, a parishioner of Epiphany in Coon Rapids, called the Mass “pretty amazing” and said it helped “cement” Archbishop Hebda as archbishop. She said she was nearly deterred by the cold, but was compelled to attend because of the Mass’ historic nature.

Mary Gilbert, who attends both the Cathedral and Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul, also said she attended because she wanted to witness a historic Mass and honor Archbishop Hebda.

“He’s an amazing individual and I’m thanking God we have him,” she said.

Archbishop Hebda was installed the ninth archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis May 13. During the Mass, he used a crosier that belonged to Archbishop John Ireland, the third bishop of St. Paul and its first archbishop. The Diocese of St. Paul was elevated to an archdiocese in 1888; in 1966 it became the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

As The Catholic Spirit previously reported, archbishops wear the pallium only for liturgies within their own province, and they are traditionally buried in it. It is also a vestment particular to an archdiocese; if the pope appoints an archbishop who has already received a pallium to a new archdiocese, he receives a new one.

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  • Paula Ruddy

    I attended the pallium Mass the Sunday before Christmas because, like the other people quoted in this article, I value the work of bishops in the church. Archbishop Hebda’s inclusive response to receiving the pallium was inspiring. The experience raised a question for me, however: How could the ritual be redesigned to make clear to many more of the laity how tremendously important the institutional church and its leadership is for the mission of Jesus in our world? I wonder if, in our postmodern culture, processions of finely costumed men and thundering organ music are consistent with the message of a good shepherd’s servant leadership. For whom is the ritual designed and what does it signify? Just asking.

  • Dominic Deus

    Paula–I,too, see the attraction in simplicity of ritual that suggests a very pastoral servant leadership but I have two thoughts: One is that the pallium represents a fraternal bond between bishops and God knows they need to all the support they can get. I can see this as a special case of the bishops being the central recipients of all the grace we and the Holy Father can offer them. My second thought is that this is a traditional ritual that is highly valued by many in the Church and should be respected and preserved by all, “as is.” There is room for both tradition and evolution in the Church–someday perhaps there will be a “fidelium” symbolizing that the Archbishop remains, at heart, a priest and servant leader. I hope so. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4225fc5468b660b9049eb175a104fbb6be9f74632f7326a872c22334a37b1998.jpg