By Lou Baldwin and Christie L. Chicoine

PHILADELPHIA – Bishops John J. McIntyre and Michael J. Fitzgerald became the 25th and 26th auxiliary bishops in the history of the Philadelphia Archdiocese as each was ordained to the episcopacy Friday, Aug. 6, at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

Cardinal Justin Rigali served as the principal consecrator, principal celebrant and homilist at the 2 p.m. Mass before a capacity congregation.

“Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord with all of its profound meaning, the Church of Philadelphia also rejoices in the ordination of her two new bishops,” said the Cardinal in his homily.

“As priests of this Archdiocese, they have generously and zealously collaborated for years with their archbishop and their brother priests in the presbyterate. With deep pastoral love they have served the people of God through the various specific priestly ministries that were entrusted to them.” {{more}}

Cardinal John P. Foley, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and Bishop Joseph R. Cistone of the Michigan Diocese of Saginaw were the co-consecrators. Cardinal Foley is a former editor of The Catholic Standard & Times. Bishop Cistone is a former auxiliary bishop and vicar for administration of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Bishop McIntyre, who turns 47 on Aug. 20, and Bishop Fitzgerald, 62, addressed the assembly in concluding remarks.

“I ask you to pray for Bishop Fitzgerald and myself as we begin our ministries as bishops,” said Bishop McIntyre, who was ordained a priest in 1992 and most recently served as secretary to Cardinal Rigali.

“Ask God to grant us more and more a heart like that of His Son, Jesus the Good Shepherd, who was willing to lay down His life for His flock. With God’s help and your support, I am confident that God, who has begun this good work in us, will bring it to completion.”

Bishop Fitzgerald, who was ordained a priest in 1980 and most recently served as judicial vicar of the Archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal, repeated the exclamation of Peter at the Transfiguration, “‘Lord it is good that we are here.'”

He added, “With these words from the Gospel … for today’s feast of the Transfiguration, St. Peter expresses wonder and awe at the presence of the transfigured Lord. In a certain sense I, too, express my own wonder and awe as the same transfigured and risen Lord once again reveals Himself in our midst through His Church gathered here today.”

Cardinal Foley said he was honored to serve as a co-consecrator. He taught Michael Fitzgerald at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood and knew Bishop McIntyre well through working with Cardinal Rigali and Philadelphia Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. “They …both … will make a great contribution to the Church,” he said.

Bishop Cistone said he cherished the privilege of serving as a co-consecrator. He described the day as great and glorious for the Archdiocese. “It was so uplifting. These are two wonderful, faithful priests.”

Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese five years ahead of Bishop Fitzgerald, Bishop Cistone recalled the years both were seminarians at St. Charles Seminary.

Bishop Cistone would later serve as dean of formation of the theology spanision at St. Charles when John McIntyre was a seminarian there.

As a former administrator at the Archdiocesan Office Center in Philadelphia, Bishop Cistone has worked closely with both bishops. Through their ordination to the episcopacy, the exemplary leadership of the Archdiocese continues, he said.

The ceremony was also attended by Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore, as well as five other archbishops, including Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Metropolitan Archeparchy of Philadelphia; nearly 30 bishops, including past and present auxiliary bishops of Philadelphia and approximately 300 priests.

Interreligious representation included Father Emmanuel Pratsinakis of St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Ron Arner, a Mennonite author and professor. “I had a lovely time during the service,” Arner said. “God was indeed glorified! I had a great worship experience. Thanks for this chance.”

Priest friends of Philadelphia’s two new bishops participated in the ceremony in various ways.

The Apostolic Letter of appointment from Pope Benedict XVI for Bishop McIntyre was read by Msgr. Francis A. Nave of the Diocese of Allentown, a seminary classmate. The Apostolic Letter for Bishop Fitzgerald was read by seminary classmate Father Daniel E. Mackle, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Philadelphia where Bishop Fitzgerald has been in residence.

The assisting priests were: Msgr. Nave and Father Sean P. Bransfield for Bishop McIntyre and Fathers Daniel E. Mackle and William G. Donovan for Bishop Fitzgerald.

The deacons of the Book of the Gospels for Bishop McIntyre were Rev. Mssrs. Kenneth C. Brabazon Jr. and Christopher P. Landis, both transitional deacons and, for Bishop Fitzgerald, Deacons John M. Betzal and William C. Mayes, permanent deacons.

After the Cardinal laid hands on the heads of the Bishops-elect and invoked the power of the Holy Spirit, the deacons held the Book of the Gospels over the heads of the Bishops-elect. After the Cardinal anointed the heads of the new bishops, they received the Book of the Gospels.

The ring, miter and crosier, symbols of the episcopal office, were carried by priest friends and ultimately presented by Cardinal Rigali to the new bishops.

For Bishop McIntyre, Redemptorist Father Kevin R. Murray carried the ring; Msgr. Joseph A. Tracy, the miter; and Father John C. Eckert, the crosier.

For Bishop Fitzgerald, Msgr. Louis A. D’Addezio carried the ring; Msgr. Paul A. DiGirolamo, the miter; and Father Eduardo G. Montero, the crosier.

The bishop’s ring symbolizes his fidelity to Christ and his espousal to the Church. The miter signifies the bishop’s resolve to pursue holiness. The crosier, or pastoral staff, is a sign of the bishop’s ministry as a spiritual shepherd.