Pope Francis has named Father Michael G. Woost, an assistant professor of sacramental and liturgical…
Cleveland bishop advises new auxiliary to remain humble, be a man of prayer
CLEVELAND (CNS) — The ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Michael G. Woost was a historic event in the Diocese of Cleveland.
It was the first time in 21 years that a son of the diocese was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the diocese. The last time was June 7, 2001, when Auxiliary Bishops Roger W. Gries and Martin J. Amos were ordained to the episcopate.
That fact didn’t escape Bishop Woost. He asked both, now retired, to be co-consecrators at his Aug. 4 ordination Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Bishop Gries retired in 2013 and Bishop Amos retired in 2017 after 11 years a bishop of Davenport, Iowa.
Cleveland Bishop Edward C. Malesic was the ordaining bishop.
After members of the presbyterate and other invited guests filed into the cathedral, the soon-to-be-ordained bishop and his two brothers who are Cleveland diocesan priests entered the church.
Father Dave Woost, pastor of Divine Word Parish in Kirtland, and Father Tom Woost, pastor of St. Brendan Parish in North Olmsted, accompanied their older brother to the tabernacle where they spent a few minutes in silent prayer.
They then joined members of the priests’ council, visiting bishops and other clergy processing into the church.
“It is a great day for the Diocese of Cleveland as we ordain one of our own sons, one of our own priests, as our next auxiliary bishop,” Bishop Malesic said, greeting the congregation and those watching the livestream.
The bishop welcomed Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, Msgr. Seamus Horgan, who represented Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio, as well as the other bishops in attendance — including Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez , his predecessor — and priests, deacons, lay ecclesial ministers, religious sisters, diocesan staff, ecumenical leaders, seminarians, seminary faculty, and family and friends of the new auxiliary.
The rite of ordination took place after the Gospel. Father Don Oleksiak, diocesan vicar general, presented Bishop-designate Woost and Msgr. Horgan read the apostolic mandate from Pope Francis announcing Bishop Woost’s appointment.
The congregation responded, “Thanks be to God,” after which Bishop Woost, accompanied by his priest brothers, showed the mandate to Bishop Malesic and the other bishops before he walked around the cathedral displaying the document.
In his homily, Bishop Malesic recalled how he had blessed and consecrated the sacred oils at the annual chrism Mass April 12 — just weeks before Pope Francis appointed then-Father Woost as auxiliary bishop May 9. The new bishop served as master of ceremonies for the liturgy, a position he had for many years.
In one of the photos from the Mass, he said, then-Father Woost was standing next to him as he breathed over the oil of chrism, calling down the Holy Spirit upon it.
“As I was doing that, I was also praying silently to myself that we might use some of that chrism in the ordination of an auxiliary bishop to help me shepherd this diocese. Today, God has answered my prayers and the prayers of many others. We will use that chrism to anoint our new auxiliary bishop,” he said.
“After today, I am taking three months off. Just kidding … probably,” he quipped, as the congregation laughed.
Bishop Malesic said that what makes a bishop is not the chrism, but the laying-on of hands.
“Just as Jesus was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, Jesus sent Twelve Apostles into the world,” he said. “Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, they were to preach the Gospel, gather the people into one flock, sanctify and lead them. In order for that this ministry might remain until the end of time, the apostles in turn chose helpers for themselves.”
“Through the laying-on of hands, the apostles passed on to their successors the gift of the Holy Spirit that they themselves had received from Christ,” Bishop Malesic said.
The tradition, handed down from the beginning, through the unbroken succession of bishops, is preserved from generation to generation, he said, and the work of the Savior continues and grows.
Bishop Malesic offered some advice to the new bishop, telling him to remain humble, be a man of prayer, have the salvation of souls always in mind, preach the Gospel, live the truth he proclaims, stand strong against the headwinds that seem to blow hard against us, defend us against the culture of death, conquer hatred with love, be devoted to our people, walk among them and listen to them.
“Celebrate the liturgy with reverence just as you have taught others for many years as a seminary professor,” he said. “Bridge the gaps of division that seem to be tearing us apart from one another, sometimes even in the church. Again, it is best when we live together in harmony as one church, with one faith and one Lord.”
Noting Aug. 4 was the feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, he said the saint described the priesthood as the love of the heart of Jesus.
“Be the beating heart of the love that Jesus has for the world. Reveal his presence to us,” Bishop Malesic said, referring to Bishop Woost’s episcopal motto, “Reveal your presence.”
The ordination continued with the new bishop lying on the cathedral floor as the litany of supplication was sung. The laying-on of hands, the prayer of ordination, handing on the Book of Gospels, presentation of the insignia — the ring, miter and crosier — seating of the new bishop and the fraternal kiss concluded the rite.
In brief remarks after Mass, Bishop Woost noted how grateful he is to God for his 63 years of life and to Pope Francis for the call to serve as a bishop, “as a shepherd in the midst of God’s people. It is extremely humbling.”
He thanked everyone, from the nuncio and his representative at the Mass to his brother bishops, to the priests, including his own brothers, to seminarians, to everyone in the congregation.
Scanning the cathedral, Bishop Woost said: “You are the body of Christ.”
To his family he expressed his love and said his parents would be proud of all seven of their sons.
“Together we go forth in thanksgiving for God’s gifts and for one another, aware, as St. John Vianney was, that our God ‘is so filled with love that he seeks us everywhere.’ With hearts filled with gratitude, with faith and hope and love, let us offer a simple prayer: Dearest God, Father, Son and Spirit, reveal your presence.”
Kovach is editor of Northeast Ohio Catholic, the magazine of the Diocese of Cleveland.