by Karen Bonar
SALINA, Kan. (CNS) — As a priest with a strong devotion to Mary, Bishop Jerry L. Vincke said he wanted to be ordained the 12th bishop of the Salina Diocese on Aug. 22, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.
“I’ve felt her presence throughout my priesthood,” the newly ordained bishop said. “I love this feast.” He said he was ordained a deacon on the Memorial of the Presentation of Mary and ordained a priest on the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so he felt he had to choose his ordination day on a Marian feast.
The bishop was ordained before an overflowing crowd at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, and on a live webcast stream via the diocesan website to faithful across the diocese and in his home diocese of Lansing, Michigan.
More than 120 priests joined 25 bishops and two abbots for the ordination.
Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing urged the new bishop to “remember this day and the power of the spirit that will be given you by the laying on of hands. This is not the power of cowardice, but of strength and of love. You know well that this task being given to you is not easy, and there will be many days when all you are able to do is pray.”
He said as a bishop, he will need to answer first to Jesus and then to “feed and tend the sheep of this diocese” and be an “apostolic witness to love through charity.”
Bishop Boyea emphasized that even though the new bishop will “now have a constant concern for all the churches and for the college of bishops, this is your new bride to whom you are wed in the place of Jesus himself . . . until the last breath of your life. Here, you will find your co-workers, as well as the poor and the weak, friends and strangers, the faithful looking for a father and a brother. All Jesus asks is that you love him, and you love them.”
During his remarks at the end of Mass, Bishop Vincke shared with the congregation something he heard in a homily that summer.
“I can only remember the first line. [The priest] said ‘God desires to be in eternal communion with every person he has created,'” Bishop Vincke said. “After he said that, that’s all I could contemplate the rest of the homily and the rest of the day.”
“A lot of us try to hide from God at times because of something we’ve done or because we don’t feel good enough. God says to us: ‘Give me everything,'” the bishop said.
The night before he was ordained, he led an evening prayer service where he reflected on the life of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests.
“[He] was a priest during a very, very difficult time for the church in France, just as we are today,” he said.
At the end of the ordination, Bishop Vincke acknowledged about 100 family members and friends who had traveled from Michigan to attend the Mass and he thanked those who had made an impact on his life.
“I want to thank my mom and my dad for a 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.”
Fifty priests from the Diocese of Lansing and across the country also attended the ceremony.
“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 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, 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.”
He concluded with a prayer one of his associate pastors at Holy Family Parish in Grand Blanc, Michigan, often said.
“Father Dan would always begin our prayer: ‘Lord, we give you permission to do whatever you want to do at Holy Family.’ I love that prayer,” Bishop Vincke said. “I want to say the same thing: Holy Spirit, you’re invited here. We give you permission to do whatever you desire to do for the Diocese of Salina.”