as Fifth Bishop of Worcester
By Kathleen A. Shaw - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
May 15, 2004
Bishop Robert J. McManus was installed yesterday as fifth
bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester in a ceremony
filled with the time-honored rituals of the Church of Rome
and witnessed by hundreds of the faithful.
Bishop McManus, auxiliary bishop of Providence, heard Archbishop
Gabriel Montalvo, apostolic nuncio to the United States, read
the official letter from Pope John Paul II naming him bishop
The 52-year-old bishop looked toward the Bishop's Chair, swallowed
and then walked toward it where he was seated by Archbishop
Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, who is metropolitan for the New
While almost 1,000 people gathered inside St. Paul's Cathedral,
many more watched the live broadcast on Charter Community
Access Channel 3. Bishop Daniel P. Reilly welcomed the television
As the ceremony proceeded inside, some alleged victims of
sexual abuse and advocates stood outside the cathedral on
After being officially installed, Bishop McManus told area
Catholics what his priorities are for Worcester as he came
among them as "chief shepherd."
He called for a "new evangelization" for all baptized
Catholics to reach out and bring back to church those who
might have grown slack in practice of their faith.
Bishop McManus said he is keenly aware of the hurt and alienation
felt by many local Catholics as a result of the clergy abuse
scandal and pledged to work for healing and reconciliation.
"I am painfully aware that more than a few Catholics
feel alienated from the church today because of a betrayal
of trust by some of its clergy or religious leaders,"
Bishop McManus said.
With support of clergy, religious and laity, he said he wants
to "help to heal the hurt that has kept some Catholics
from feeling at home in the church of their youth. This effort
at healing and reconciliation must be an essential part of
the new evangelization here in the Diocese of Worcester,"
The bishop reminded Catholics, whether clergy, religious or
laity, that from the day of Baptism until death "we Christians
are called to bring the love of God to a world that longs
to be touched, to be healed, to be embraced by the God who
is love." It can only happen if all participate, he said.
Eight priests were removed from ministry by Bishop Reilly
in the last two years after allegations of sexual misconduct
were made. The diocese still has more than a dozen civil lawsuits
pending before the courts. A report compiled for the bishops
National Review Board last February shows more than 45 priests
were accused of misconduct since 1950.
Although Catholics interviewed recently acknowledge that their
numbers have dropped and other surveys show half the residents
of Central Massachusetts have no church affiliation, Catholics
still constitute the largest religious group in the area.
The bishop reiterated his plan to encourage more men to consider
the priesthood. He has served as rector of the minor seminary
for the Providence Diocese for the past six years. "I
know firsthand of the generosity of so many young men who,
sometimes at great personal sacrifice, respond joyfully to
the Lord's call to follow him as his priest," he said.
The bishop said he has lived with the seminarians, prayed
with them and taught them.
He noted that he chose as his motto "Christus Veritatis
Splendor," which means "Christ, the Splendor of
Truth," in Latin. Pope John Paul II has said that all
people of good will must understand "that at the heart
of the moral life is the inseparable relation between freedom
and truth," he said.
"In our day and at this crucial juncture in the moral
direction of our American society, we need to learn this lesson
once again. We live in a society where the very existence
of moral truth, of what constitutes basic right and wrong,
is being called in question. In many quarters of our American
culture, from our university classrooms to the chambers of
our legislatures and even to the ordinary person on the street,
the question of Pontius Pilate to Jesus at the beginning of
the Lord's passion resounds with a haunting familiarity, "What
is truth?'" he said.
Bishop McManus holds a licentiate and a doctoral degree in
sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in
Rome, which is operated by Jesuits.
Archishop O'Malley, a Franciscan monk, at the conclusion of
the Mass brought some welcomed Catholic humor into the proceedings
with a joke about a Franciscan and a Jesuit who were walking
along the street one day. A young man came up to them and
asked how many novenas he had to say to get a BMW. "What's
a BMW?" asked the Franciscan. "What's a novena?"
asked the Jesuit. Most Catholics know a novena is any devotion
that occurs in a series of nine. Many Catholics also own BMWs,
which are expensive cars.
Archbishop O'Malley said bishops are "vessels of clay,"
but he asked Catholics to reflect on the spiritual treasures
that they bring.
Bishop McManus was officially greeted by people representing
the community at large. They included Mayor Timothy P. Murray
of Worcester, the Rev. Dianne Kessler, who heads the Massachusetts
Council of Churches, the Rev. Allyson D. Platt, who heads
the Worcester County Ecumenical Council, Monsignor Thomas
J. Daley, the Rev. Tomasz J. Borkowski, Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel
Sigura, Deacon and Mrs. Francisco Escobar, Barbara A. Spence,
Brother Paul Feeney, CFX, Sister Kathryn Geisel, PBVM, Brandan
Colvert and Annie Perla.
The Worcester Diocese, which claims more than 300,000 members,
was founded in 1950 and cut from the Springfield Diocese.
Bishop John J. Wright was named first bishop. He was succeeded
by the late Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan, who was succeeded
by Bishop Timothy J. Harrington, followed by Bishop Reilly.
Bishop Reilly, although a generation older, grew up in the
same general section of Providence as Bishop McManus.