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The ordination of Bishop Joseph R. Binzer

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June 14, 2011

By Eileen Connelly, OSU

Click here to view photos of the event.

CATHEDRAL DEANERY — During a Mass that was both reverent and joyous, Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati Joseph R. Binzer was ordained June 9 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. Appointed in April by Pope Benedict XVI, he is the 11th auxiliary bishop to shepherd the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The archdiocese has not had an auxiliary bishop since the late Bishop Carl K. Moeddel retired in 2007.


The cathedral was filled to capacity for the liturgy, which was celebrated by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, with Archbishop Emeritus Daniel E. Pilarczyk and Bishop-designate R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill., as co-ordaining bishops. On hand to concelebrate were archbishops and bishops from dioceses in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan and attending priests.


As ceremonial music played before the start of Mass, ecumenical guests, presidents of Catholic colleges and universities, representatives of women’s and men’s religious congregations, the knights and ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, the knights and dames of the Order of Malta and a knight of Saint Gregory the Great processed into the cathedral. The liturgy began with a procession of the approximately 250 priests in attendance.


Archbishop Schnurr welcomed those gathered and referenced the new bishop’s Cincinnati roots saying, “God has truly blessed the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as He has called one of our own to serve as auxiliary bishop.”


As the Rite of Ordination began, the congregation sang Veni Creator Spiritus, an ancient hymn that invoked the Holy Spirit upon the bishop-elect and all gathered for the occasion. Franciscan Father Manuel Viera, judicial vicar for the archdiocesan Tribunal Office, then presented Bishop-elect Binzer to Archbishop Schnurr, asking him to “ordain this priest to the responsibility of the episcopate.”


This was followed by the reading of the apostolic mandate from the pope calling the new bishop to his office by Father Larry Tharp, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Fairfield, and met with applause from the congregation.


In his homily Archbishop Schnurr explained that “it is the letter of appointment that makes this ceremony possible today. Without the letter, the archdiocese would still be without an auxiliary bishop. It assures the clergy, religious and laity of the local church that our new bishop serves in union with the Bishop of Rome and the universal church.”


The archbishop made note of an apostolic letter promulgated 10 years ago by Blessed Pope John Paul II in which every diocese is challenged to form a “communion of love” among the diversity of people within its boundaries. This communion of love, the late pontiff said, is to be the primary witness that we are disciples of Jesus Christ.


“Pope Benedict XVI has given the Archdiocese of Cincinnati an auxiliary bishop well prepared to be a shepherd who can help to foster a ‘communion of love’ among the people of our archdiocese,” Archbishop Schnurr said, noting Bishop Binzer’s ministry as a parochial vicar, pastor, chancellor of the archdiocese for the past eight years and vicar general since 2007. “He knows the archdiocese — the people, the parishes, the schools and other Catholic institutions. Most importantly, he has a deep and passionate love for the church and the priesthood. He is blessed with intelligence, common sense and an ability to quickly understand difficult and complicated situations. He has pastoral sensitivity, outstanding administrative abilities and a good sense of humor, which he is going to need.”


“Bishop Binzer will serve with utter fidelity and loving devotion,” the archbishop added. “He will celebrate the sacraments with joy. You already know him as a kind, generous and dedicated priest. These qualities will serve him well, will serve all of us well, as today he undertakes the office of bishop.”


The archbishop encouraged the congregation to pray for Bishop Binzer every day saying, “A bishop needs the support and prayers of the people entrusted to his pastoral care. There will be days when his patience will be sorely tested or he will be discouraged and disappointed. There is nothing more consoling for a bishop than to hear people say they are praying for him.”


“Bishop Binzer, the people of this archdiocese have great affection for you as we recall your outstanding service already given to this local church, especially as chancellor and vicar general,” Archbishop Schnurr said. “By the applause you have heard, we joyfully welcome you into the College of Bishops, and I look forward to collaborating with you as a brother bishop. We assure you of our prayers and best wishes as you assume a greater responsibility in the service of the church.”


After the homily, the bishop-elect was questioned about his willingness and resolve to assume the responsibilities of bishop. He then prostrated himself while the congregation remained standing and sang the “Hymn of Supplication,” an ancient prayer of the church that asks the blessing of God and all the saints upon the candidate. Next came the laying on of hands by Archbishop Schnurr, the concelebrating bishops and all the bishops present as the principle gesture of ordination that expresses the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.


Archbishop Schnurr placed the open Book of the Gospels on the head of the bishop-elect, a sign reminding him that one of his chief responsibilities is to bring the good news of the Gospel to the people. The archbishop then prayed the solemn prayer of ordination while deacons held the book above Bishop-elect Binzer. This ancient prayer of the church invokes the power of the Holy Spirit upon the newly ordained and recalls the importance and role of the bishop with in the community of the church.


Bishop Binzer was anointed and presented with the book as he was commissioned to base his preaching and teaching on the Gospel. He was then invested with the symbols of his ministry — the ring, miter and pastoral staff, after which he was invited to take the first place among the concelebrating bishops. He then received a sign of peace from all the bishops present.


After Communion, Bishop Binzer, processed throughout the cathedral and blessed the assembly. During his remarks at the end of Mass, he said, “Thanks for being here. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. God is good! By the grace of God, my vocation began in my family, and I will always be grateful. For all of you who have loved, encouraged and kept me honest, you have been a great blessing. Please don’t stop.”


“I owe a debt of gratitude to the parishes where I have served, to the devoted people who work in the Central Offices of the archdiocese, those who work in parishes, schools and agencies,” he added. “You have made me a better person, a better priest.”


Bishop Binzer also expressed his gratitude to his brother priests, the visiting bishops in attendance, Bishop Conlon and Archbishop Pilarczyk. To Archbishop Schnurr he said,  “Thanks for your confidence in me, for your leadership, for your pastoral concern for the local church of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and for all that led to this day.”


At a public reception at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Bishop Binzer greeted guests and offered blessings. J.R. and Jucelen Hockwalt, members of St. Henry Parish in Dayton, received a blessing on the occasion of their 32nd wedding anniversary. Louise Karas, a student in the Athenaeum of Ohio’s Lay Pastoral Ministry Program, was excited that Bishop Binzer offered his support and blessed the door-to-door evangelization ministry at Holy Name Church in Trenton, where she is a member.


“He shows so much support for the laity, is such a hard worker and cares so much about his people, his flock,” Karas said.


Bob Hausmann, and his wife, Cindy, who became acquainted with Bishop Binzer during his parochial internship at St. Henry, were overjoyed to be present for his ordination. “With his concern for others and his intelligence, I knew from the first time I met him that he was going to go somewhere,” Hausmann said. “He is blessing to our archdiocese and to our church and I’m blessed to know him.”


Joan Binzer, the newly ordained bishop’s mother, stood nearby during the reception, accepting hugs and congratulations. “It was a beautiful ceremony,” she said of the ordination Mass. “I loved the music, and it was so touching to see all the support and love he has from his brother priests.”


“I’m so excited and happy,” she added. “It’s still unbelievable that my baby boy born in 1955 has become a bishop. You just never know what God has in store for you; He’s full of surprises.”


She believes her son’s compassion and gift of being a good listener will serve him well in his ministry as Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati. Assuring Bishop Binzer of her continued prayers, she offered the following motherly advice: “Keep on keepin’ on.”  

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