31/1/10 – Installing a New Bishop

By now you would have heard the news that Most Rev Anthony Fisher op has been appointed the third Bishop of Parramatta.  He succeeds Bishop Manning, who, according to Canon Law, had to submit his resignation upon reaching his 75th birthday in 2008.

The first liturgical celebration Bishop Fisher celebrates as Bishop of Parramatta is his Installation Mass on Thursday 4 March.  When a bishop takes possession of his diocese, he is either episcopally ordained, or he is installed as bishop.  In Bishop Fisher’s case, as he is already a bishop (Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney), he is installed.

So what does the installation of a bishop entail?  The vast majority of the Mass follows the same pattern and structure as a typical Sunday Mass.

The act of installation forms part of the Introductory Rites of the Mass.  The bishop is greeted upon entering the cathedral by a senior priest of the diocese or the dean of the cathedral, and prepares for the Mass.  Once he processes into the church, he greets the people and sits for the first time in the cathedra (the chair of the bishop), thus taking his place as the bishop of the diocese.

The chancellor of the diocese, and the college of consultors are then presented with the apostolic letter from the Pope announcing the bishop’s appointment.  It is read to all present, who respond in acclamation.  The new bishop is then welcomed and congratulated by some representatives of the diocese.  The Gloria is sung, and Mass then continues as normal.

This will be the third time a bishop is installed in our diocese, as all our bishops were bishops prior to their appointment here.  Each of them has been installed in a different cathedra; Bishop Bede was installed in the cathedra of the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Bishop Manning in the presidential chair from St. Patrick’s Blacktown (where Bishop Bede was Parish Priest before the diocese was formed).  Bishop Fisher will be the first Bishop of Parramatta to be installed in our present cathedra and cathedral – a history-making event in itself.

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