Last month’s Hallam News gave an overview of the order of the Service of Installation for our new Bishop. This month we explore in a little more detail some of the meanings and symbolism of the Service.
The spotlight fell on three important religious and liturgical symbols when Bishop Ralph Heskett was installed as the Third Bishop of Hallam in the Cathedral Church of St Marie last month.
Focus first fell on the cathedra – the Bishop’s Chair – when Archbishop McMahon, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Liverpool in whose Province the Diocese of Hallam falls, invited Bishop Ralph to take his place there. As Bishop Ralph later commented in his homily, the cathedra is a sign of the Bishop’s authority within the Diocese and recognises his role as the leader and teacher of the Diocese.
Welcoming Bishop Ralph, towards the end of the installation, Cardinal Vincent Nichols also referred to the Bishop’s Chair. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster reminded Bishop Ralph that the Chair should ‘always be too big for the Bishop’ emphasising the fact that authority is shared and mutually supported by all the brother bishops and archbishops of England and Wales.
The second symbol used in the liturgy of installation was the presentation of the Book of the Gospels to Bishop Ralph by Fr Christopher Posluszny, the Cathedral Dean. The presentation is a sign of Bishop Ralph’s mission to preach the Word of God to the people of Hallam. Our new bishop, as a member of the Redemptorist Order which is known for its mission of preaching and teaching in parishes, promised to preach with zeal and with patience.
Having been conducted to his seat and received the Gospels, it only remained for Emeritus Bishop John Rawsthorne to pass his pastoral responsibility on to Bishop Ralph by presenting him with the Diocesan crozier.
The crozier is a mark of the shepherd’s office and ministry and one of the themes of Bishop Ralph’s homily was that of leading and caring for the people of Hallam in his new ministry.
At the conclusion of the Mass, a particularly moving moment was the singing by his fellow Redemptorists and Bishop Ralph of the invocation ‘Inclyta et Virgo Pia’ (O noble and Holy Virgin).
Then both the Apostolic Nuncio, H.E. Archbishop Mennini and Cardinal Nichols addressed the congregation drawn from all parts of the Diocese. Archbishop Mennini commended Bishop Ralph to the people of the Diocese. He expressed the hope that we would all take Bishop Ralph to our hearts as we had with Bishop John. Cardinal Nichols, after giving a moving tribute to the work of Bishop John, re-echoed this commendation to us.
The Mass ended with one of Bishop Ralph’s favourite hymns ‘O Mother Blest, whom God Bestows’.
A video of the full installation service is available to watch on the Hallam News Website.
Photographs courtesy of Bob Rae