FAQ about the Installation Mass

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Curious to learn more about an installation of a new bishop? Check out the frequently asked questions below. Bishop Gregory L. Parkes was installed as the fifth bishop of St. Petersburg on January 4, 2017. Click here to learn more. The Installation Mass was not open to the public and attendance was by invitation only due to limited seating.

What is an installation?

A bishop who has been transferred from one diocese to another must take canonical possession of his new diocese within two months of his appointment. Canonical possession means that the new bishop exercises the full power of governance in the diocese to which he has been appointed. In most instances, the taking of canonical possession occurs during a Mass of Installation.

What happens during a Mass of Installation?

  • At the beginning, the rector of the cathedral receives the new bishop at the doors of the cathedral church, offering him a crucifix to be kissed, and the aspergillum. The bishop then sprinkles himself and those present.
  • The new bishop, together with other deacons, priests, bishops and ministers of the Mass, process to the altar.
  • The Mass begins with the metropolitan archbishop greeting the people and inviting the apostolic letter to be read and shown to the people. Usually, the reading of the apostolic letter is done by the Apostolic Nuncio.
  • After the reading, the apostolic letter is shown to the college of consultors in the presence of the chancellor of the diocesan curia.
  • The new bishop is then seated in the cathedra and is presented with the crozier.
  • After this, the bishop rises and is greeted by various representatives of the diocese, both clergy and laity, and also, if circumstances suggest, by ecumenical, interfaith and civic leaders. When the greeting of the new bishop is finished, the Mass continues with the singing of the Gloria.

Who are the participants?

  • The lay faithful (which includes consecrated religious and seminarians)
  • Deacons, priests and other bishops

Those who have special roles in the Mass of Installation include:

  • The metropolitan archbishop (Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami)
  • The Apostolic Nuncio (Archbishop Christophe Pierre)
  • The new bishop
  • The college of consultors
  • The chancellor
  • All representatives who greet the new bishop

What do they wear?

The Church’s law concerning vestments for the celebration of Mass prescribes the following:

  • Deacons wear an alb and stole
  • Priests wear an alb, stole and chasuble
  • Bishops wear an alb, stole, chasuble and miter
  • The newly installed diocesan bishop also makes use of the crozier.

Where do they sit?

The new diocesan bishop sits in the cathedra. The other bishops who have a principal role in the Mass of Installation (the metropolitan archbishop, the Apostolic Nuncio, and Bishop Lynch as Bishop-Emeritus of St. Petersburg) are seated in the sanctuary of the cathedral, along with any Cardinals in attendance. The rest of the clergy (deacons, priests, and other bishops) are seated in the transepts of the cathedral.

Glossary of Terms

Alb– a white garment covering one’s street dress.

Apostolic letter– the letter is the means by which the bishop is appointed to his new diocese.

Apostolic Nuncio– the official representative of the Pope to a particular country.

Aspergillum– the liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water.

Cathedra– the bishop’s chair which symbolizes his teaching office within his diocese.

Chancellor– the chief notary who keeps the official records.

Chasuble– the vestment worn over the alb by priests and bishops when celebrating or concelebrating the Mass.

College of Consultors– a group of 6-12 priests who exercise mostly an advisory function to the bishop.

Crozier– also spelled crosier, a staff with a curved top like a shepherd’s crook – a symbol of the bishop’s pastoral office.

Diocesan Curia– the central administrative offices of the diocese.

Metropolitan Archbishop– the archbishop who presides over a group of dioceses known as an ecclesiastical province.

Miter– the proper liturgical headcovering worn by bishops during liturgical celebrations.

Stole– a vestment worn by all ordained clergy. Deacons wear it over their left shoulder and drawn across the chest to the right side where it is fastened, whereas priests wear it around the neck and hanging down in the front.

Transepts of the Cathedral– the areas on either side of the sanctuary.

– FAQ information adapted from the Diocese of Arlington’s website.