Newly installed Bishop Sullivan says ‘Alleluia’

Bishop Dennis Sullivan set the tone for his years as Camden’s eighth bishop with the word Alleluia.

Bishop Sullivan – who served as a pastor of a multicultural parish for years in New York City – said the word Alleluia, universally associated with joy, needs no translation. “It’s everybody’s language.”

The word is not used in the Roman liturgy during Lent, so at his installation Mass in St. Agnes Church, Blackwood, on Tuesday, Feb. 12 – the day before Ash Wednesday – he said that as a “final fling” before the beginning of Lent, he wanted to “let the Alleluia ring out.”
He offered an Alleluia for the Diocese of Camden, which just observed its 75th anniversary; to “our priests, now my brothers”; to Bishop Joseph Galante; to Jesus, who showed that true religion is not found in rules and regulations but in the heart; to the Catholic Church, currently observing a Year of Faith; to Pope Benedict; and to all who minister in Camden.

“And, not to be selfish, but Alleluia to me,” Bishop Sullivan said. “Praise God that I will faithfully teach and sanctify and pastor this local community according to the way of Jesus Christ the teacher, the priest and the shepherd.

“Let the Alleluia echo around this place and around the six counties of this local church,” he said.

The service began with Bishop Sullivan knocking on the door of the church and Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, as head of the New Jersey Province, allowing him to enter. There followed a formal procession of bishops, clergy, religious, seminarians, lay leaders, interfaith representatives, Knights of Columbus and others that took close to half an hour to enter the church.

Next was the Rite of Installation, beginning with the reading of the Apostolic Letter from Pope Benedict appointing Bishop Sullivan as head of the Diocese of Camden, his formal acceptance of the appointment, and his being escorted to the cathedra, the bishop’s chair, the seat of his authority.

After the people showed their support with applause, the bishop was welcomed by representatives of the church of Camden, leaders of other faith communities and civic officials. Among those who came forward to greet Bishop Sullivan were Hospitaller Brother Thomas Osorio and Matthew Rodriguez, a student at Archbishop Damiano School, a school in Westville Grove for children with mental and physical disabilities, and Kate Slosar of the diocese’s Ministry With the Deaf, who greeted the bishop in sign language.

“Christ tells us in today’s Gospel that God looks into the heart. May ours be seen as loving,” the bishop said, adding there is beauty “in the variety of peoples, languages and cultures that constitute the Church in Camden.”

The intercessions were spoken in several languages, and Bishop Sullivan gave a portion of his homily in fluent Spanish. He said, despite not having a single drop of Hispanic blood, his heart is Latino. He also said that the Hispanic community is not only welcome in the diocese, but that their culture and faith tradition is a fundamental part of the parishes.

At the end of the Mass Bishop Galante presented Bishop Sullivan with a print of Caravaggio’s “The Calling of St. Matthew,” a painting Bishop Sullivan spoke of in his opening statement when he was appointed to Camden last month. Also making brief closing remarks were the two archbishops of New York who Bishop Sullivan worked with, Cardinal Edward Egan, now retired, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Before leaving the altar, Bishop Sullivan asked, “As the late Mayor Koch (of New York City) would say, ‘How am I doing?'” The response was warm and enthusiastic.

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