With incense in the air and "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" being sung, Bishop Richard J. Malone took his next steps towards becoming 14th bishop of Buffalo, presiding over Evening Prayer at St. Louis Church in downtown Buffalo on Aug. 9. More than 200 diocesan and religious order priests from Buffalo, Maine and Boston gave the bishop a sustained ovation as he made his way down the longest aisle in the Diocese of Buffalo.
"I don't need to convince you that challenges to hope abound," Bishop Malone said, "in our world, our Church, our own lives. It is precisely because those challenges are so real, so daunting that our people need to experience us as men fired with Gospel hope."
The late afternoon service was also attended by Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, whose retirement takes effect Aug. 10, the day of Bishop Malone's installation. Auxiliary bishop Edward M. Grosz also took part.
Bishop Malone went out of his way to salute Bishop Kmiec. "A very special word of thanks to Bishop Kmiec, who could not have given me a warmer welcome. We did not know each other well before my appointment to this diocese, but we connected very quickly. It is a privilege to succeed you, Ed. You are a holy and dedicated priest and bishop, a good shepherd after the heart of Christ, and not afraid to tackle the difficult tasks that face us these days in a changing Church as we position ourselves to go effectively about the work of the New Evangelization. You are truly a reason for hope! Thank you for your witness to charity and service, your witness to hope!"
The assembled responded with a standing ovation.
Most of his reflection was directly for his brother priests. "See the reasons for hope in your own life, your journey, your ministry. If we have eyes that can see, the reasons for hope are always grander, deeper, more powerful than whatever would tempt us to lose hope. If you struggle to see reasons for hope, pray for what Tertullian called "grace-healed eyes." God will give you that gift. And you will see more clearly that the ultimate reason for hope is our trust in the saving promises of our God and in His power to bring them about."
Bishop Malone's installation is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 10, at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.
Bishop Malone's Evening Prayer homily