Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — BUFFALO— Amidst the splendor of centuries-old rites, the Most Rev. Richard J. Malone was installed Friday as the 14th bishop of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese.
The newly installed prelate noted that Pope Benedict XVI, as well as his predecessor, Pope John Paul 11, have called for a “New Evangelization” in the Catholic faith. “It’s not a new message, but a new impetus, new zeal, urgency and methods, with a special focus on outreach to inactive Catholics,” Malone said in his first homily. The bishop added: “As I read the proposals for the future planning for our diocese, I was delighted to find as the first priority evangelization.”
Malone said that involves developing an enthusiasm for one’s faith, inviting others to hear the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, and fostering Gospel values in our society by living the faith in justice, truth and charity.”
As the spiritual leader of the diocese, Malone, 66, becomes the symbolic shepherd of the flock that totals 633,550 Catholics in 169 parishes in Western New York. He was bishop of the Portland, Maine, diocese for eight years before the pope assigned him to Buffalo on May 29.
Escorted to the Bishops’ Chair prior to the afternoon Mass, Malone succeeded Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, who had led the diocese since Oct. 28, 2004. In retirement, Kmiec, who plans to reside in the city, looks forward to assisting on occasion at area parishes.
About 1,200 persons including civic leaders, three cardinals —Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop emeritus of New York; and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston — more than 20 bishops from across the state and southwestern Ontario, pastors and many parishioners from throughout Western New York attended the ceremony at the 157-year-old Victorian Gothic St. Joseph Cathedral on Franklin Street.
Several ecumenical and inter-religious leaders also greeted the new bishop. They included Rabbi Keith Karnofsky, president of the Board of Rabbis; Dr. Surjit Singh of the Sikh Society of Western New York; and the Rt. Rev. R. Williams Franklin, bishop of the episcopal Diocese of Western New York.
Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, a former bishop of Buffalo, predicted that Western New York Catholics will be enriched by Malone’s service and leadership. “His support for the church teachings and his many years of pastoral work promise that he will be highly regarded by clergy, religious and laity,” Mansell told a reporter before the newly appointed bishop arrived in Buffalo.
In addition to Mansell, others seated on the altar with long ties to Buffalo were Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz; Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, Diocese of Syracuse; and Bishop Donald W. Trautman, Diocese of Erie. Pa. Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Bernard J. McLaughlin, who is approaching 100 years of age, was unable to leave his Tonawanda residence to attend the event. Earlier, however, Cardinal Dolan and Malone paid him a special visit.
Ironically, the pope’s representative, the Rev. Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, was about 20 minutes late for the installation due to a flight delay.
Some members of Niagara County parishes also had roles in the 2 1/2-hour ceremony.
Rachel Bailey of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Niagara Falls, a diocesan youth board member, carried a banner in the procession into the cathedral and also read one of the petitions at the Mass. Tessa Schmidt, a member of St. Joseph University Parish, Buffalo, and a student at Drake Elementary School, North Tonawanda, was one of eight persons representing the Youth of the Diocese.
Just before introducing his successor to the congregation, Kmiec said, “Perhaps I should introduce myself,” a line that left a ripple of laughter across the pews. When he added, “I used to be the bishop of Buffalo,” the entire assembly stood and gave him a resounding ovation.