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Zyanne Hamlin and Yvette Smith reacted as Bishop Mark E. Brennan greeted residents across from the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, W.Va., following his installation Mass Aug. 22. Bishop Brennan, a former auxiliary in Baltimore, became the ninth bishop to head the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
Zyanne Hamlin and Yvette Smith reacted as Bishop Mark E. Brennan greeted residents across from the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, W.Va., following his installation Mass Aug. 22. Bishop Brennan, a former auxiliary in Baltimore, became the ninth bishop to head the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
Photo Credit: Bob Roller | Catholic News Service

Lighting darkness, service are main themes of installation

Bishop Mark E. Brennan was installed Aug. 22 as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston

WHEELING, W.Va. — Bishop Mark E. Brennan was welcomed Aug. 22 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, which encompasses the state of West Virginia, in a ceremony filled with song and applause.

After processing into the cathedral, the bishop, who previously was an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, listened as Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d’affaires at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, read the papal bull of his appointment. Bishop Brennan held up the official document to the congregation “for those with good long-range vision,” he said to laughter and sustained applause.

Bp. Brennan
Asked by Msgr. Erbi if he accepted the responsibility for which Pope Francis chose him, the bishop said, “With faith in Jesus Christ and with the help of God, I do accept the pastoral care of the people of God of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. I resolve to serve faithfully the spiritual needs of the local Church.”

Then Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, who has been apostolic administrator of Wheeling-Charleston since last September, led Bishop Brennan to the cathedra, the bishop’s chair, and handed him his new crosier.

Archbishop Lori noted that he has known Bishop Brennan since their days in the seminary. “He is the strong, loving and wise shepherd we have been praying for.”

Bringing light to the darkness and service to the people were key themes of the liturgy, including musical selections such as “Christ Be Our Light” and “The Hand of the Lord,” as well as the bishop’s homily.

Quoting from the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, Bishop Brennan began the homily saying, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom, a light has shone.”

That is an apt description of how Catholics in the U.S. and especially West Virginia have been dealing with anger, frustration and distrust of Church leaders, he said, alluding to Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, former head of the diocese, without mentioning him by name.

Bishop Bransfield resigned in September 2018 amid allegations of sexual harassment and financial mismanagement. Four days before Bishop Brennan was named as the new bishop, Pope Francis announced disciplinary actions for Bishop Bransfield, prohibiting him from living in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and from presiding or participating anywhere in any public celebration of the liturgy.

At the end of the Mass, Bishop Brennan thanked Archbishop Lori, clergy, diocesan staff and others. “Most of all, I thank God for all His unceasing kindness over the years,” the bishop said. “From Him all blessings flow.”

After Mass, Bishop Brennan emerged on a balcony on the corner of the cathedral, about 20 feet above the ground, to bless the people gathered and all of Wheeling.

Later, still in his liturgical vestments, he crossed the street to greet some of the residents of the Formosa Apartments directly facing the cathedral. Yvette Smith and Zyanne Hamlin, who live in the building, said they got “good vibes” from the bishop, and Smith said she might consider attending church when he is there.

“For him to come across the street personally and shake my hand, it stunned me,” Hamlin said.

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