HARTFORD – Invitations have been mailed and plans are under way for the installation of Archbishop-designate Leonard Paul Blair as the fifth archbishop of Hartford on Monday, Dec. 16, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
“This is an exciting time for the Archdiocese of Hartford,” said Father Jeffrey V. Romans, assistant chancellor of the Archdiocese, who is organizing the event with Maria Zone, director of communications. “We’re making arrangements to make this a very fitting event for welcoming our new archbishop into our archdiocesan family.”
According to Father Romans, all of the cardinals and bishops in the United States have been invited to the installation. Those archbishops and bishops in attendance will concelebrate the Mass with Archbishop-designate Blair in the presence of the cardinals.
Invitations also went out to priests, deacons and their wives, seminarians, and men and women religious of the Archdiocese of Hartford; Bishop Blair’s classmates from the seminary and priests from the Diocese of Toledo, where he has served for 10 years; colleagues who worked with Bishop Blair during his assignments at the Vatican; and his personal friends and relatives, including his sister Patricia and niece Annie.
Also invited are: six representatives of each parish in the archdiocese, employees of the archdiocesan Chancery and offices, representatives of the Knights of Columbus, Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver, Knights and Ladies of Malta, Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of St. Gregory, principals of the Catholic elementary schools and high schools, and 105 students from schools in each of the three vicarates of the archdiocese.
Entry to the cathedral, which seats 1,750 people, will be by invitation only. It is expected, however, that with additional seating in the choir loft and sanctuary, an estimated 2,000 people will attend the ceremony.
Father Romans said that the installation ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a formal procession into the cathedral followed by the Mass of Installation at 2.
Archbishop-designate Blair will be greeted at the interior glass doors of the cathedral by Archbishop Henry J. Mansell. Archbishop Mansell will present him to Msgr. John J. McCarthy, rector of the cathedral and record-keeper for the archdiocese, who will hold a crucifix for Archbishop-designate Blair to kiss. Archbishop-designate Blair will then sprinkle those around him with holy water before the procession continues into the sanctuary.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States, will preside over the introduction from the bishop’s chair (cathedra). The cathedra is located on the left side of the altar from the congregation’s perspective.
As papal nuncio, Archbishop Viganò serves as the personal representative of Pope Francis to the United States. In this capacity, he has the responsibility of installing the archbishop.
The papal nuncio will preside over the introductory rites. Father Romans said that he will begin the installation rite by reading the Oct. 29 letter from Pope Francis appointing Archbishop-designate Blair as the fifth archbishop of Hartford.
Archbishop Viganò will hand the papal bull to Msgr. McCarthy, who also is the chancellor for the archdiocese, who will in turn bring the letter to the College of Consultors, showing it to each member to ensure its authenticity as required by Canon law.
The College of Consultors comprises Bishop Christie A. Macaluso, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza, Msgr. John J. McCarthy, Msgr. James G. Coleman, Father Lawrence R. Bock, Father James A. Shanley, Father Shawn T. Daly, Father Gerald H. Dziedzic and Father Daniel G. Keefe.
Archbishop-designate Blair will be escorted to the cathedra by Archbishop Viganò. Once seated, Archbishop-designate Blair will receive his crosier, or pastoral staff, from the papal nuncio. At that moment, Archbishop-designate Blair officially takes his position as archbishop of Hartford.
Representatives from various walks of life in the archdiocese will then come forward to greet Archbishop Blair at the cathedra, including permanent deacons, men and women religious, lay faithful, a youth representative, a family representative, an ecumenical representative and an interfaith representative.
As the installation rite concludes, Archbishop Blair will be the principal celebrant of the Mass. Prayers of the Faithful, coordinated by Lucy Zocco, assistant to the director of the Office of Divine Worship, will be offered in languages that represent the various communities in the archdiocese.
Men studying for the priesthood in the archdiocese will also participate in the installation ceremony as servers at the Mass. The Serra Club of Hartford will serve as ushers.
Music is being coordinated by Dr. Ezequiel Menéndez, cathedral music director. The Cathedral Choir, choir members from all Catholic high schools in the archdiocese, and music directors and cantors from various churches have been rehearsing. In addition, a 10-piece brass ensemble with musicians from New York, Boston and the Hartford area will perform. The conductor for the liturgy is Dr. Edward Bolcovak, head of the vocal department at the Hart School of Music at the University of Hartford and choirmaster at the Cathedral.
Deacon Paul Sullivan of the Diocese of Providence, R.I., oversaw the design of the coat of arms for Archbishop-designate Blair. The new design will incorporate the coat of arms for the Archdiocese of Hartford on the left side, with Archbishop-designate Blair’s personal coat of arms on the right.
Sullivan Bros. Inc. of Waterbury is hand-crafting the wooden coat of arms that will be placed on the cathedra.
Following the closing prayer and recession from the cathedral, a light reception will be held at the Aetna building on Farmington Avenue to allow the faithful the opportunity to meet Archbishop Blair. Guests attending the installation will receive a prayer card from the new archbishop to mark the occasion. (The prayer card will be available to all 700,000 parishioners throughout the archdiocese following the installation.)
A supplement to The Catholic Transcript, prepared in honor of the occasion, also will be available at the reception. It will be mailed with the January issue.
The night before the installation Mass, Archbishop-designate Blair will meet the priests of the archdiocese at a dinner followed by evening prayer (vespers) at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.
The installation Mass will be televised live on WCCT-TV. Preliminary plans also call for it to be broadcast on EWTN, Catholic TV, the archdiocesan website and WJMJ-FM radio.
Archbishop-designate Blair was born April 12, 1949, in Detroit, and ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit on June 26, 1976. Appointed an auxiliary bishop of Detroit on July 9, 1999, he was ordained a bishop on Aug. 24, 1999, and appointed bishop of Toledo in 2003.
He succeeds Archbishop Mansell, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis on Oct. 29.
Archbishop Mansell, who has served as Archbishop of Hartford since December 2003, is 76. Canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope at 75. Archbishop Mansell will live at St. Augustine Parish in South Glastonbury.