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