In a happy circumstance — Archbishop Robert J. Carlson dubs such a coincidence a "God-cidence" — Bishop-elect Lawrence S. Nicasio of Belize just happened to be at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary at the perfect time on March 16, with Bishop-elect Mark S. Rivituso scheduled to celebrate the regular midday Mass.
Bishop-elect Nicasio concelebrated Mass with Bishop-elect Rivituso in the Chapel of St. Joseph, the Kenrick-Glennon alums wearing amaranth (reddish-rose color) zucchettos symbolic of their new roles and thus standing out from their brother priest concelebrants.
By mid-May, they'll wear mitres atop the zucchettos after their installations: Bishop-elect Rivituso (ordination Class of 1988) on May 2 as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Louis; and Bishop-elect Nicascio (Class of 1989) on May 13 as bishop for the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan in Belize.
After "elect" is removed from their titles, they'll be the fresh faces in the Hall of Bishops leading to the chapel at Kenrick-Glennon, their official portraits joining those of fellow alums who have been elevated to bishop, archbishop or cardinal. In that sense, they'll inspire seminarians for generations, but even better, by God-cidence, they inspired seminarians in the flesh on March 16, celebrating and concelebrating Mass to transform simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ — the True Presence.
"It's pretty exciting to have them here ... worship the Lord with them as they prepare for their consecration," said Transitional Deacon Michael Lampe, slated for ordination May 27 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Seminarian Marcos Rodriguez agreed. Among four seminarians from Belize studying at Kenrick-Glennon, he described himself as "very happy ... very glad" that the man who will be "shepherding of our Church in Belize" spent a few days at Kenrick-Glennon as part of a trip to the United States in search of bishop vestments.
"It's good to have him here; it's a privilege and it's a great joy I cannot express in words," Rodriguez said.
And this visit went beyond Bishop-elect Nicasio's regular visits to Kenrick-Glennon as an alumnus and in his roles with the Belize diocese.
"It's a different meaning, a different experience ... a more special feeling," Rodriguez said.
Bishop-elect Nicasio described becoming a bishop as "amazing; it's like a dream," though he can compare notes and understanding with a contemporary from Kenrick-Glennon in Bishop-elect Rivituso.
"We used to pass each other in the hallways," he said. "I'm very happy being with him as a companion with the work ahead."
Likewise, Bishop-elect Rivituso, who described getting used to the new role as "a little overwhelming" but easier with a contemporary going through the same process.
"I think in all humility, the Lord is calling us with trust enough to have the grace to do what we need to do," Bishop-elect Rivituso said. "It's not going to come from us, it's going to come from Him."
Just as alumni in the Hall of Bishops inspired them as seminarians, they'll soon be in the Hall of Bishops to inspire future seminarians who answer God's call to be joyous priests but perhaps bishops or beyond.
"It's pretty much what God wants," Deacon Lampe said. "All of us are open to the possibility of surrendering to the will of God, to do what He asks of us."RELATED ARTICLE(S):'The love of Christ impels us' | Bishop-elect Rivituso ready to serve Archdiocese of St. Louis