Upon his ordination as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on Wednesday, July 20, Bishop Donald J. Hying received several prominent symbolic gifts from the archdiocese and local church.
The gifts take various forms. The ordination ceremony incorporated numerous symbols, and it’s important to differentiate among insignia of the office, ordination rituals and sacramental Mass elements, said Fr. James Lobacz, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki’s master of ceremonies, and the archdiocese’s vicar for senior clergy.
For instance, Bishop Hying’s head was anointed with oil by Archbishop Listecki, since the Mass was an ordination.
At ordination, a priest is anointed with chrism oil, explained Fr. Lobacz.
“This is a ritual, though, and not a sign or insignia of the office. It is not unique to bishops,” he added.
Similarly, the new bishop received a book of the four Gospels during the Mass.
“As he receives it from Archbishop Listecki, he will place his hands on it and there is a special prayer that accompanies the act: ‘Receive the Gospel and preach the word of God with all patience and sound teaching,’” said Fr. Lobacz.
This gift and prayer are included in the Mass to remind him of his responsibility to preach, according to Fr. Lobacz, but the book traditionally comes from the cathedral where it is used regularly. It is kept in place and passed down.
“There isn’t a new one for each bishop,” the priest said.
“So technically speaking, there are only three insignia of the office given to a new bishop: a ring, a crosier and a miter,” Fr. Lobacz said. “What distinguishes them is the way they look. The purpose is so that when he is vested for Mass, he’ll look different than other people.”
All three gifts were accompanied by prayers, which explain what each is about, Fr. Lobacz said.
The gold-colored miter – a tall, pointed ceremonial headwear worn as part of liturgical dress – was accompanied by a prayer reminding the new bishop that the holiness of God should shine, Fr. Lobacz said.
The prayer was: “Receive the miter, and may the splendor of holiness shine forth in you, so that when the chief shepherd appears, you may deserve to receive from him an unfading crown of glory.”
The miter was made by the House of Hansen (Chicago), and is a gift of the Serra Clubs of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
The crosier, also called a pastoral staff, is a pastoral sign, Fr. Lobacz explained, essentially a holy shepherd’s staff.
The accompanying prayer was: “Receive the crosier, the sign of your pastoral office. Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishop, to govern the church of God.”
Fr. Lobacz said. “The crosier once belonged to Milwaukee (Auxiliary) Bishop Leo Brust (1969-95). Bishop Hying chose it for his use when he visited the (archdiocese’s) archives.”
The ring is technically a wedding ring, Fr. Lobacz said. Since the new bishop is married to the church, the prayer was: “Receive this ring – a seal of fidelity, adorned with undefiled faith – and preserve unblemished the bride of God, the holy church.”
The ring Bishop Hying received was a gift from former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, Fr. Lobacz said. “It depicts Christ crucified in the center, with the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist standing on each side of the central figure.”
Bishops generally return the miter and crosier if they are reassigned or named to other posts, Fr. Lobacz said, but some keep rings.
“Sometimes bishops do keep their rings,” he said. “Others are passed on from bishop to bishop. They are not like athletes’ rings. Archbishop Listecki, for instance, does not have ‘a La Crosse ring’ (from his previous post).”
“He does, however, have different rings given to him by family and other bishops,” he added. ”Another good example is Bishop Brust, who was buried wearing a ring given to him by the pope at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.”