Pallium ‘a reminder of the call to be shepherd,’ says Archbishop Hebda

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — In front of hundreds of Catholics who braved frigid cold to witness the moment, Archbishop Bernard Hebda received his pallium at a special Mass Dec. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

Among them were bishops from dioceses in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. After the opening prayer, Archbishop Hebda, who heads the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, knelt before the altar as Archbishop Pierre conferred the pallium with a short prayer, placing the small white stole over his shoulders.

Once wearing the pallium, Archbishop Hebda stood and embraced Archbishop Pierre as the congregation applauded.

The pallium signifies a special relationship between an archbishop and bishops of nearby dioceses. The archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis is metropolitan archbishop of a province that includes the dioceses in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. As metropolitan archbishop, Archbishop Hebda offers fraternal support to the other bishops.

The pallium also symbolizes an archbishop’s relationship to the pope, who also wears one. In June, Pope Francis blessed Archbishop Hebda’s pallium at a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Archbishop Hebda received the stole then but could not wear it until its conferral.

In remarks near the end of the afternoon Mass, Archbishop Hebda said he was honored to receive the pallium and to serve as metropolitan archbishop.

His pallium’s six crosses and three “nails” — pins given to him by friends from Pittsburgh — “will remind me that I am obligated to unite myself always to the cross as I follow Christ,” he said.

“I am well aware that the pallium is by no means a sign of honor, but a reminder of the call to be a shepherd who is called to seek out and carry the lost sheep, and who serves in harmony with our universal shepherd, Pope Francis,” he said.

The circular stole is made of lamb’s wool to evoke the idea of archbishop as shepherd.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., places a pallium on Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis during Mass Dec. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., places a pallium on Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis during Mass Dec. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

“The Holy Father sets the bar high for all of us, but by his own example gives us the hope that we can indeed be those joyful instruments of mercy that our God desires us to be,” he said. “I am committed … to leading this church to be the field hospital that Pope Francis describes, going out to the peripheries to bring the salve of Christ’s love to those who feel abandoned, those who are alone, and sadly those who have been hurt in the past by some who have the privilege of ministering in the person of Christ, or in the name of the church.”

Archbishop Pierre preached the homily. He spoke of the various roles of a bishop, including following Christ’s model of being the good shepherd.

“It is simple, yet (it) has great and important meaning,” he said of the pallium. “It is a reminder to the metropolitan archbishop and all the faithful that the particular vocation and mission of every bishop is none other than to be a good shepherd — a shepherd who places his sheep, whether sick or weak, upon his shoulders and guides him, cares for him, and leads him to the source of the living water.”

Tying a bishop’s role to symbols of Advent and Christmas, Archbishop Pierre noted that sheep and shepherds were among the first to see Jesus after his birth. He also tied the shepherd symbolism to Calvary.

“In Jesus, God comes to save his people, and Jesus saves by giving his life for his sheep when, in obedience, he offered himself freely and fully as an acceptable sacrifice upon the cross,” he said. “This is what it means to be a Good Shepherd: to give life, to offer one’s life in sacrifice for everyone.”

Among the concelebrating bishops were Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis and retired Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, who led the archdiocese from 1995 to 2008. He received his pallium from St. John Paul II in 1996.

Bishop Donald Kettler of St. Cloud led a delegation to the Mass of about 25 people from his diocese.

Also in attendance were: Minnesota Bishops Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston, Paul D. Sirba of Duluth, John M. LeVoir of New Ulm and John M. Quinn of Winona; North Dakota Bishop John T. Folda of Fargo; and South Dakota Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City. Bishop David D. Kagan of Bismarck, North Dakota, and Bishop Paul J. Swain of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, were unable to attend.

Representatives from each of the province’s 10 dioceses participated in the procession at the beginning of Mass, accompanying 5-foot-tall silk banners with their diocese’s name and crest. More than 75 priests and 35 deacons also vested for the Mass.

Before the final blessing, Archbishop Hebda thanked Archbishop Pierre for traveling to Minnesota for the Mass.

“I hope that you have felt welcomed in the Province of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and have experienced the warmth of our faithful in spite of the chill outside these walls,” he said, referring to the weekend’s subzero temperatures.

“In the seven months that I have been here as archbishop, I have been inspired by the resilience of the Catholic faithful in this part of the Lord’s vineyard and their great love for Christ’s church,” said the archbishop, who was installed May 13. “It helps that they are served by the finest bishops in our nation, and I am grateful for their presence in such great number here today as well.”

He said he wanted Archbishop Pierre to communicate to Pope Francis “gratitude for his leadership and most especially his ministry of unity and communion,” as well as an affection for the pope and appreciation for his closeness to the province, which Archbishop Pierre’s presence reflected.

Sarah Ciccone, a member of Epiphany Parish in Coon Rapids, called the Mass “pretty amazing” and said it helped “cement” Archbishop Hebda as archbishop. She said she was nearly deterred by the cold, but was compelled to attend because of the Mass’ historic nature.

Mary Gilbert, who attends both the cathedral and Nativity of Our Lord Church, which also is in St. Paul, said she was there to witness a historic Mass and to honor Archbishop Hebda.

“He’s an amazing individual and I’m thanking God we have him,” she told The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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