By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Bishop Timothy C. Senior became the 24th Auxiliary Bishop of the Philadelphia Archdiocese Friday, July 31, after Cardinal Justin Rigali ordained him a Bishop before a packed congregation at the 2 p.m. episcopal ordination at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
“I cannot help but reflect on the fact that in the wonderful and mysterious plan of God, I have come to know and to believe in Jesus Christ – and it is my relationship with Him that has brought me to this moment,” Bishop Senior said in his remarks.
“I do love being a priest, and I am confident that I will also love being a Bishop,” he added.
Bishop Senior said he has asked God for the grace of perseverance and a deepening desire to do His will so that he might give his life completely in the service of His Church.
“Please join me in praying that like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, I will always be in the midst of my brother priests and the people of God as one who serves,” continued Bishop Senior.
He said he also prayed that his ordination might serve to strengthen the relationship between God and those assembled and help them know and believe in God more deeply.
“I am filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit today, and I am anxious to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with renewed energy, and strengthened by the graces that I have received today through ordination.”
Cardinal Justin Rigali served as the principal consecrator, principal celebrant and homilist.
“Your important task from now on shall be to exercise a special role in shepherding God’s people together with your brother Auxiliary Bishops and myself,” said the Cardinal.
“And what profound fulfillment in love will be yours as you help shepherd God’s people to salvation and eternal life,” added the Cardinal.
“On this occasion of your ordination day, the people of God rejoice with you and are close to you,” continued the Cardinal. “The whole Archdiocese of Philadelphia is invited to recommit itself to Jesus Christ. So many of the faithful will indeed look to you as a Bishop in order to know Jesus better and in His name to serve humanity more faithfully.”
The co-consecrators were Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas and, from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va., Bishop Michael J. Bransfield.
In addition to Bishops Thomas and Bransfield, more than 30 Bishops from across the Eastern seaboard served as concelebrating and ordaining Bishops, including: Philadelphia Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua; Baltimore Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal William Keeler; Cardinal John P. Foley, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and a former editor of the Catholic Standard & Times; Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishops Robert P. Maginnis and Joseph P. McFadden; Bishop Emeritus of the New Jersey Diocese of Metuchen Edward Hughes, who was pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Secane, Delaware County, when Bishop Senior served as a transitional deacon there; and Archdiocese of Boston Auxiliary Bishop Francis Irwin, with whom Bishop Senior once worked as a graduate student at Boston College.
Bishop John O. Barres of the Diocese of Allentown, whom Cardinal Rigali ordained a Bishop the day before, was also a concelebrant, as was former Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, who on July 28 was installed as the sixth Bishop of the Michigan Diocese of Saginaw. Bishop Senior succeeds Bishop Cistone as the Archdiocese’s Vicar for Administration.
Also among the concelebrating and ordaining Bishops were Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka and his predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Stephen Sulyk.
A number of ecumenical and interreligious representatives and civic officials were also present.
After he was ordained, Bishop Senior smiled at his family members, who were seated in one of the first pews. His mother Elise, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in North Wales, Montgomery County, said it was then that she blew her son a kiss.
“I know that God is just applauding upstairs,” she said. “All my life, I kept him close to God.”
Bishop Senior’s godmother, Carolyn McDermott of St. Anastasia Parish in Newtown Square, Delaware County, said that when she saw her godson being ordained a Bishop, she could not help but think back to his baptismal day. “He was only a baby; now, he’s a Bishop,” she said.
Before the final blessing and dismissal, Bishop Senior administered his first blessing as a Bishop. As he walked up and down the aisles of the Cathedral, the jubilant congregation applauded loudly.
Among the loudest cheers he received were from representatives of spanine Providence Village in Springfield, Delaware County, a residential facility for developmentally disabled adult women which operates under Catholic Social Services. Bishop Senior has served as chaplain and priest in residence at spanine Providence Village for the past 14 years.
Accompanied by numerous staff members, approximately 50 of the 92 residents attended the ordination.
Under the direction of Michael Sheerin, the Cathedral Basilica Choir provided music throughout the liturgy. A music aficionado who credits liturgical music in part for his call to the priesthood, Bishop Senior appeared deep in prayer as he sang and listened to the majestic selections.
During the preparation of the altar and the gifts for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, “Scio Cui Credidi” (“I know Him in whom I have believed”) was sung. The selection was composed by Bishop Senior on the occasion of his ordination to the priesthood and was dedicated to his mother.
A phrase from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy – the Bishop’s patron saint – “Scio Cui Credidi” also serves as Bishop Senior’s episcopal motto.
They were also the first and final words of his concluding remarks.
Another song close to the Bishop’s heart was performed before the Mass officially began. Chorus members from Lansdale Catholic High School serenaded him on the steps outside the Cathedral during the processional. There, he received a rousing rendition of the alma mater he helped compose for Lansdale Catholic High, from which he graduated in 1977.
The sun was shining then but by the time the recessional was under way more than two hours later, rain was pouring – just as it did the day he entered the seminary.
The former Vicar for Clergy noted that his episcopal ordination occurred during the universal Church’s celebration of the Year of the Priest and encouraged the young men present to consider a possible call to the priesthood.
“If Jesus is inviting you to come to know Him more intimately by accepting His call to the priesthood, I assure you He is inviting you to a rewarding and wonderful life of service,” Bishop Senior said. “I encourage you to be attentive to this call.”
Read Cardinal Rigali’s homily from the ordination Mass on page 6; read an in-depth biography of Bishop Senior in the special supplement in this issue.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.