by Karen Bonar
SALINA — The Catholics of northwest Kansas greeted their own “apostolic witness” on Aug. 22 as Bishop Gerald “Jerry” L. Vincke was ordained and installed as the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Salina.
Bishop Vincke was ordained before an overflowing crowd at Sacred Heart Cathedral. The Mass was also live streamed via the diocesan website to faithful across the diocese, and to his home diocese of Lansing, Michigan.
More than 120 priests joined 25 bishops and two abbots for the ordination.
The Mass began with the reading of the apostolic mandate.
“Therefore, upon consultation with the Congregation for Bishops, by our supreme apostolic authority, we appoint you as bishop of Salina, together with all the rights and obligations connected to this mission,” read Msgr. Walter Erbi, who is charge d’affaires at the apostolic nunciature to the United States.
“In addition,” he continued, “we mandate that this letter come to the attention of the clergy and the people of this same see, and we exhort them to give you a warm welcome and to remain in communion with you.”
In his homily, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing exhorted the new bishop to continue his love and prayer for those he serves.
“You will be an apostolic witness to hope through prayer,” Bishop Boyea said. “You will be an apostolic witness to love in charity.
“The soil which is now your mission field has already been made holy by those who have gone before you, and thus you will be able to rejoice at reaping what others have sown, even as you provide your own apostolic witness.”
Bishop Vincke’s mother Fidelis Vincke celebrated her 92nd birthday four days after her son’s ordination.
Following the homily, Bishop Vincke answered nine questions asked by the ordaining bishop, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. He then lay prostrate on the floor while the Litany of Saints was sung.
Next, Archbishop Naumann laid his hands on Bishop Vincke in the prayer of ordination. Following the archbishop, all 25 bishops and two abbots in attendance, including former Salina Bishop Edward Weisenburger, took turns laying hands on the new bishop in prayer, invoking the Holy Spirit.
The Book of the Gospels was held over Bishop Vincke’s head as the prayer of consecration was prayed. Next, Archbishop Naumann anointed him with chrism.
Bishop Vincke was presented with the Book of the Gospels, then Archbishop Naumann put a ring onto the finger of the new bishop, a miter on his head and handed him his crosier (staff). Both the ring and crosier have Marian themes, reflecting the bishop’s devotion to Mary.
He then was led by Archbishop Naumann to the cathedra (bishop’s chair) and was seated, where each bishop and abbot present offered him the fraternal kiss of peace.
Upon completion of the ordination rite, Mass proceeded, with the newly minted bishop serving as the principal celebrant. For the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Bishop Vincke was joined at the altar by all priests in attendance.
During his remarks at the end of Mass, Bishop Vincke spoke of his devotion to the Blessed Mother.
“It’s so beautiful on the cross, Jesus can barely speak and he’s about to die and he says something so beautiful to the beloved disciple, and to all of us — we’re all beloved disciples. He said, ‘Behold your mother,’” Bishop Vincke said. “Before he said ‘Behold your mother,’ [Jesus] said to the Blessed Mother, ‘Behold your son.’
“In other words, it all begins with Mary gazing her love upon us like a gentle, loving mother. We all need mothers, we love our mothers.”
Yet, he first and foremost gives glory to God.
“We always give thanks to God first,” Bishop Vincke said. “St. John says it best: ‘God is love.’”
Among those seated in Sacred Heart Cathedral were almost 100 family members and friends who traveled from Michigan to witness the event.
“I want to thank my mom and my dad for the great gift of faith and love and hope that they passed on,” Bishop Vincke said. “What a beautiful faith we have. Thanks, Mom. Thank you for passing on the beautiful faith and your love.”
Also in attendance were 50 visiting priests from the Diocese of Lansing and across the country.
“I will miss you tremendously,” Bishop Vincke said to his brother priests from the Lansing Diocese. “I want to thank you for being there with me all those years. You’ve made me a better priest, and I’m thankful for that.”
In addition to thanking the bishops and priests in attendance, he expressed gratitude to the permanent deacons and their wives, as well as priests from the Salina Diocese.
“Thank you for your incredible warmth and receptivity to me,” he said. “I feel incredibly blessed at your dedication and who you are — good, holy priests.”
He also acknowledged members of four religious orders who traveled to the event, a consecrated virgin from the Diocese of Lansing, the diocesan choir, musicians, staff and the Knights of Columbus.
“Finally, [to] the people of Salina, thank you for allowing me to serve you in these coming years,” Bishop Vincke said. “I promise to serve you in good times and in bad. I look forward to being with you and getting to know you.”