Bishop Charles Drennan D.D.

Jun 11, 2011


This morning, priest of the Christchurch diocese Charles Drennan was ordained as the Co-adjutor bishop of the diocese of Palmerston North.

The gathering of people from around the diocese of Palmerston North and throughout the country (and abroad) was a powerful witness to the life of Catholic faith vibrant and visible in the diocese and throughout New Zealand.

It was clear throughout the Ordination Rite, that the Sacrament of Order in the Church is one hundred percent dependant on the power of the Spirit of God.

Below you can read part of the Ordination Rite used today. Let it inspire us to pray for Charles as he begins his ministry as a bishop.

At the end of the homily, the ordaining bishop Peter Cullinane turned to the rite instructing us and examining Charles: 

Consider carefully the position in the Church to which our brother is about to be raised.  Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, in turn sent twelve apostles into the world.  These men were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel and gather every race and people into a single flock to be guided and governed in the way of holiness.  Because this service was to continue to the end of time, the apostles selected others to help them.  By the laying on of hands which confers the sacrament of orders in its fullness, the apostles passed on the gift of the Holy Spirit which they themselves had received from Christ.  In that way, by a succession of bishops unbroken from one generation to the next, the powers conferred in the beginning were handed down, and the work of the Savior lives and grows in our time.

In the person of the bishop, with his priests around him, Jesus Christ, the Lord, who became High Priest for ever, is present among you.  Through the ministry of the bishop, Christ himself continues to proclaim the Gospel and to confer the mysteries of faith on those who believe.  Through the fatherly action of the bishop, Christ adds new members to his body.  Through the bishop’s wisdom and prudence, Christ guides you in your earthly pilgrimage toward eternal happiness.

Gladly and gratefully, therefore, receive our brother whom we are about to accept into the college of bishops by the laying on of hands.  Respect him as a minister of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God.  He has been entrusted with the task of witnessing to the truth of the Gospel and fostering a spirit of justice and holiness.  Remember the words of Christ spoken to the apostles: “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me.”

You, dear brother, have been chosen by the Lord.  Remember that you are chosen from among men and appointed to act for men and women in relation to God.  The title of bishop is not one of honor but of function, and therefore a bishop should strive to serve rather than to rule.  Such is the counsel of the Master: the greater should behave as if he were the least, and the leader as if he were the one who serves.  

Proclaim the message whether it is welcome or unwelcome; correct error with unfailing patience and teaching.  Pray and offer sacrifice for the people committed to your care and so draw every kind of grace for them from the overflowing holiness of Christ.

As a steward of the mysteries of Christ in the church entrusted to you, be a faithful overseer and guardian.  Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, always be mindful of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.

As a father and a brother, love all those whom God places in your care.  Love the priests and deacons who share with you the ministry of Christ.  Love the poor and infirm, strangers and the homeless.  Encourage the faithful to work with you in your apostolic task; listen willingly to what they have to say.  Never relax your concern for those who do not yet belong to the one fold of Christ; they too are commended to you in the Lord.  

Never forget that in the Catholic Church, made one by the bond of Christian love, you are incorporated into the college of bishops.  You should therefore have a constant concern for all the churches and gladly come to the aid and support of churches in need.  Attend to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit appoints you an overseer of the Church of God — in the name of the Father, whose image you personify in the Church — and in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, whose role of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd you undertake — and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church of Christ and supports our weakness with his strength.

Examination of the Candidate

The bishop-elect then rises and stands in front of the principal consecrator, who questions him:  An age-old custom of the Fathers decrees that a bishop-elect is to be questioned before the people on his resolve to uphold the faith and to discharge his duties faithfully.

My brother, are you resolved by the grace of the Holy Spirit to discharge to the end of your life the office of the apostles entrusted to us, which we now pass on to you by the laying on of hands?
The bishop-elect replies:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to be faithful and constant in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ?
Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to maintain the deposit of faith, entire and incorrupt, as handed down by the apostles and professed by the Church everywhere and at all times?
Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to build up the Church as the body of Christ and to remain united to it within the order of bishops under the authority of the successor of the apostle Peter?
Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to be faithful in your obedience to the successor of the apostle Peter?
Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved as a devoted father to sustain the people of God and to guide them on the way of salvation in cooperation with the priests and deacons who share your ministry?
Bishop-elect:   I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to show kindness and compassion in the name of the Lord to the poor and to strangers and to all who are in need?
Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved as a good shepherd to seek out the sheep who stray and to gather them into the fold of the Lord?
Bishop-elect:  I am.

Principal consecrator:  Are you resolved to pray for the people of God without ceasing, and to carry out the duties of one who has the fullness of the priesthood so as to afford no grounds for reproach?
Bishop-elect:  I am, with the help of God.

Principal consecrator:  May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.


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