Bishop John Dolan takes reins in Phoenix


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The Diocese of Phoenix officially has a new shepherd. And his name is John Dolan.

The installation Mass of Bishop Dolan, a native son of the San Diego Diocese who served for the past five years as its auxiliary bishop, was celebrated Aug. 2 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Avondale, Ariz. The liturgy was held there, rather than in Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, to accommodate the large number of people in attendance.

Twenty-six bishops participated, including Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., who was the presider; and retired Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles; Bishop José Leopoldo González González of Nogales, Mexico; and both Cardinal-designate Robert McElroy and Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano of San Diego.

There were also many priests, including some from San Diego as well as Phoenix, and dignitaries, including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Dolan as the fifth bishop of Phoenix on June 10. He succeeded Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who had shepherded the diocese for 19 years.

During the Mass, the papal proclamation announcing Dolan’s appointment was read and presented to the assembly. The deans, those priests serving as leaders with the geographical parish clusters that comprise the Phoenix Diocese, presented themselves to their new bishop, as did representatives of the diocese’s ethnic communities.

Bishop Dolan’s crosier, or pastoral staff, is the same one that he used as auxiliary bishop of San Diego, but with one modification: The husk of a cholla cactus, which is commonly found in the Arizona desert, has been added to the handle in homage to his new diocese.

Shortly before the recessional hymn, the bishop knelt before an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Diocese of Phoenix, and presented a crucifix that had been given to him by San Diego parishioners. It was yet another symbolic expression of his embracing of a new diocese.

In his homily, Bishop Dolan made three proposals – “my only proposals as we move forward” – to those who were attending the Mass in person or via livestream: “Be good, be love, and be blessed.”

He acknowledged that those listening to this homily were likely expecting to learn of his plans for the Phoenix Diocese. But, “in the spirit of synodality,” he told them, he was hoping to hear their thoughts and dreams.

“‘Be good.’ Will you join me in resting in our goodness and in the goodness of others?” he asked. “‘Be love.’ Will we abide in His love and celebrate together the loveliness of others? ‘Be blessed.’ Will we rejoice together in our blessedness and bless others along the way?

“If so, let us go forth,” he continued. “Let us go forth and, as we do so, let us draw close to this altar, the source and summit of all that is good, all that is love, and all that is blessed.”



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