Archbishop: Eucharist should compel Catholics to imitate Jesus, serve others

| March 25, 2016 | 2 Comments
Archbishop-designate Bernard Hebda processes from the altar with Eucharist at the end of Holy Thursday Mass  March 24 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Behind him are, from left, Deacon Phillip Stewart and Zachary Morgan, Cathedral liaison for archdiocesan liturgies. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Archbishop-designate Bernard Hebda processes from the altar with Eucharist at the end of Holy Thursday Mass March 24 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Behind him are, from left, Deacon Phillip Stewart and Zachary Morgan, Cathedral liaison for archdiocesan liturgies. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Receiving the Eucharist should remind Catholics who they are and compel them to conform their lives to Christ, Archbishop-designate Bernard Hebda said in his Holy Thursday homily March 24 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

The Eucharist “takes us back to the upper room, where the Lord offered his body and blood to the first apostles,” who were told to “do this in memory of me,” he said.

The Eucharist and Jesus’ example shows “how we ought to be transformed into men and women who imitate Jesus” in sacrifice and be servants to others, he said.

The Mass was Archbishop Hebda’s first after the March 24 announcement that Pope Francis had named him the new archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Archbishop Hebda had served since June 2015 as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator, a role he had assumed was temporary, as he had been on track to take the helm of the Newark, New Jersey, archdiocese after its archbishop’s anticipated retirement in July.

When celebrating previous Masses at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Archbishop Hebda said he had looked across the sanctuary at the empty archbishop’s chair, and wondered who would eventually take that seat.

“Little did I imagine that I would be sitting there,” he said, a place he will assume after he is installed the archdiocese’s archbishop May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. He called the appointment a “great privilege” and said he was grateful to Pope Francis.

Turning the focus to Holy Thursday and the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, he pointed to the “rich symbolism” in liturgy’s readings, and linked the preparation of the Isarelites for Passover to Christians’ preparation for the journey to eternal life.

He recalled a homily given by St. John Paul II, where the pope praised the faithfulness of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, a Vietnamese priest and nephew of Vietnam’s first president. The cardinal was imprisoned in Vietnam from 1975 to 1988 because of his faith and family connections. Archbishop Hebda relayed that the cardinal was prohibited from celebrating Mass, but he would obtain drops of wine and water to consecrate, and it would transform him, he said.

He previously told The Catholic Spirit that the Holy Thursday announcement was a reminder of the importance of the Eucharist, priesthood and service in his new role.

“It’s the Eucharist that brings us together,” he said. “The bishop is called to be that source of unity in his local Church, and where that takes place is at the table of the Lord.”

As for the commemoration of the institution of the priesthood, he noted that traditionally, Holy Thursday included a celebration of the chrism Mass, where priests renew their commitment to the Church.

“So today is very much a celebration of the priesthood and that bond that unites bishop and priest,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to working with the priests of the archdiocese in his new role.

Regarding service, he said that everyone is called to serve. “Our Lord came to serve rather than be served,” he said, “and a Holy Thursday nomination is a wonderful reminder for a new archbishop that it’s all about service.”

After the homily, Archbishop Hebda washed the feet of eight men and women, kissing the feet when he was finished.

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Category: Welcome Archbishop Hebda

  • Jane

    So happy to have you with us to guide us in the One True faith established by Jesus Christ, Archbishop Hebda! God Bless you always!!

  • Angie

    Welcome Archbishop Hebda! I am looking forward to St. Paul’s annual May Procession which ends at the beautiful Cathedral. I wish it could be as attended as when I was a small child…God Bless You in your new role!