Concelebrants waiting to enter the cathedral before the Mass

The weather was perfect today as the 7th bishop, and 6th archbishop took canonical possession of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.  Canon 382, 3 & 4 states: “A Bishop takes canonical possession of his diocese when, personally or by proxy, he shows the apostolic letters to the college of consultors, in the presence of the chancellor of the curia, who makes a record of the fact. […] It is strongly recommended that the taking of canonical possession be performed with a liturgical act in the cathedral church, in the presence of the clergy and the people.”

This ceremony took place during a splendid Mass in Brisbane’s Cathedral of Saint Stephen, concelebrated by bishops from around Australia, and clergy of Brisbane and beyond.  Heads of Churches were well represented, and in attendance also was the Governor of Queensland, the Premier, the Chief Justice and the leader of the Opposition.  The Cathedral was packed with representatives from parishes, schools, religious, and the various organisations that make up the archdiocese.  A large number followed the ceremony on screens outside the cathedral, and many more would have joined the celebrations via the live feed on the internet (the Mass may be viewed online at

Upon entering the Cathedral this morning, immediately evident was the new Archbishop’s coat of arms above the cathedra, something that has not been seen in our cathedral, certainly since the renovations in the late 80’s.

I’ve been away from the diocese for some time, so it was interesting and pleasing to see a few liturgical changes that I hope are permanent and not just for today.  Chief on my “happy to see” list was the use of proper chants at the Entrance, Offertory and Communion, instead of hymns.  I love hymns as much as anyone, however the Roman Rite of Mass is meant to be accompanied by chants, both for the Ordinary of the Mass, and at the above mentioned times.  One of my hopes is that the use of the revised English translation of the Roman Missal will encourage much more use of chant for the Propers of the Mass.

Some will be very happy to know that – finally – the norms of Redemptionis sacramentum were observed and that the Precious Blood was not poured from vessel to vessel.  I certainly hope that the procedure observed today is here to stay.  It always seemed a little odd that most parishes adapted their practices but the cathedral didn’t.

And while it is hardly earth-shattering, it was absolutely beautiful to hear bells rung once again at the elevations.  Their elimination always seemed unnecessary to me, and with all the other beautiful music in today’s Mass, the sound of bells during this high-point of the celebration is hardly out of place.

The new Archbishop preached strongly about the need for the Church to truly become missionary, and to embrace the new evangelisation which has been called for not just by the Popes, but indeed by the Holy Spirit.  At another point the Archbishop reflected on his episcopal motto: Sanguis et aqua – Blood and water: a reference to the blood and water which flowed from Christ after his side was pierced with a lance.  In this he echoed themes that I remember him preaching on in retreats he gave to us in the seminary: there is no weakness that cannot be turned – by God – into a manifestation of his power and strength.

Some of the concelebrating Bishops at the conclusion of Mass

His Grace also taught us – something that I had never known before – that Brisbane means “bone breaker.”  He promised not to be a bone breaker, but did add that difficult decisions don’t necessarily please everyone.  (For more on the etymology of “Brisbane” see

All in all, it was a joyful celebration for the beginning of a new chapter in the life of our Archdiocese.

Welcome, Archbishop Mark!  

Please pray for him as he begins his ministry as our Pastor, and – as he said in his homily – that in seeing and hearing him, we will in fact see and hear Jesus Christ.

Thanks to Bishop Jarrett:

P.S. As Archbishop Coleridge took possession of the diocese, Bishop Jarrett’s role as Apostolic Administrator came to a conclusion.  Please say a prayer in thanksgiving for Bishop Jarrett’s willingness to take on the governance of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, as well as that of his own diocese of Lismore, during the time that Brisbane was sede vacante.

UPDATE 12 MAY 2012:

There are some more bits and pieces over at The Acolyte’s Tale.