A Celebration of Joy and Unity – Finland Received a New Bishop
On Saturday, November 25th, all of Finland, but especially the Catholics of Finland, received a new Bishop after a long wait. Cardinal Anders Arborelius OCD, with 14 other Bishops, ordained Fr. Raimo Goyarrola as Bishop. Later that day in St. Henry’s Cathedral, Bishop Raimo took possession of the Diocese of Helsinki as he sat on the traditional Chair of the Bishop of that church, the cathedra.
Due to the need for space, the Ordination Mass was held in St. John’s Church in Helsinki, which was borrowed for the occasion. According to the first estimates, ca. 1500 people attended the Mass, which, in addition to Catholics, included hundreds of non-Catholic Christians as well as other interested parties. In attendance were all current Orthodox Bishops lead by Archbishop Leo, as well as a large amount of Lutheran Bishops and other religious leaders.
In addition to the priests living in Finland, Catholic priests from many countries were present, e.g. the previous Vicar Generals of the Diocese including Prelate Tuomo T. Vimpari, who currently works at the Apostolic Nunciature in Romania, the Pastor of the Trieste Cathedral Mons. Marino Trevisini, and Fr. Wieslaw Swiech SCJ from Poland.
Those concelebrating at the Mass were, among others, the Prelate of Opus Dei Mons. Fernando Ocáriz, the Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Fr. Augustinus Sander OSB, the Secretary General of Bonifatiuswerk Mons. Georg Austen, and the Chairman of Ansgarwerk of Osnabrück and Hamburg Fr. Hermann Hülsmann. Also many relatives of Bishop Raimo from Spain and the Basque Country had arrived for the occasion.
Fr. Eze Charles Nwoko from Tampere was responsible for the liturgy of the Mass together with Fr. Stanislaw Zawilovicz SCJ from Turku. The ca. 20 youth serving at Mass came from different parishes and various nationalities. Ann-Catrin Weckström was responsible for the music, and directed a large choir (Chorus Festivus). Music was also provided by Schola Gregoriana Aboensis choir from Turku. The organ was played by Markku Mäkinen. The other musicians at Mass were Meelis Milli, Ville Supponen, Piero Pollesello and Saara Savolainen.
A CELEBRATION OF JOY AND UNITY
The sound and video for the Mass were handled by professionals. The streamed Mass was viewed by ca. 14500 people from different parts of the world. They saw and experienced what those present felt even more strongly: The joy and peace, as the Diocese again had a shepherd. The feeling of unity, for which everyone had longed for such a long time. The breath of hope, which gives trust that we together can strengthen this small local Church and give it a breath of new, fresh life.
The sermon by Cardinal Arborelius given at the beginning of the Rites of Ordination touched all listeners due to both its spiritual as well as human side. (The sermon is available online in Finnish and in English.) The confident promises of “Volo” pronounced by the Bishop Elect echoed in the large church, as the crowd followed along intentively by praying, first responding to the Litany, then witnessing the Laying on of Hands, the Prayer of Consecration, the Anointing of the Head, and the reception of the Book of Gospels, as well as the giving of the signs of the office –the ring, the mitre and the crosier.
At the end of the consecration the newly ordained Bishop received the congratulations and kisses of the other Bishops while Edward Elgar’s magnificent Ecce Sacerdos Magnus echoed in the church. Cardinal Arborelius then continued as the main celebrant of the Eucharist, as the Mass was not offered in the Cathedral of the new Bishop. Bishop Raimo, however, received the Eucharistic Gifts, which were presented by his young relatives. After the ending prayer, Bishop Raimo blessed those present during the Te Deum. He gave the final blessing together with Cardinal Arborelius.
THE DAY HAD ONLY BEGUN
After Mass fresh sandwiches and water bottles were distributed in front of the church, as for many the day had only begun and there were other occasions to follow. The Bishop’s reception started at 14.00 at Tapahtumatalo Bank on Unioninkatu. While glasses of champagne were raised, almost a thousand parishioners and friends congratulated the Bishop.
The atmosphere at the reception rose fast. As the people got warm after the cold weather, they got to greet each other and—what was most important—the new Bishop. There were plenty of those wishing to offer their congratulations, and songs performed by a Vietnamese choir were also heard in the background.
TAKING POSSESSION OF THE DIOCESE
The ceremony of taking possession of the Diocese in St. Henry’s Cathedral was attended by a large amount of invited foreign guests and almost all Catholic priests living in Finland. For the first time, Bishop Raimo stepped as Bishop into his soon-to -be Cathedral.
He was greeted already at the door of the church, where he kissed a crucifix and blessed himself and those standing close to him with holy water. The choir Verbi Dei Sono sang acclamations of Laudes Regiae, to which the crowd responded by repeating the verse Christus Vincit, while the Bishop prayed at the sacrament chapel. After the acclamations had ended, the Bishop finally entered the apse and was seated in his chair. The Papal Bull was shown to the priests and the people, and was read in Finnish and Swedish.
After this the Pastor, Fr. Jean Claude Kabeza, said a couple of words and invited all those present to pray the Our Father. After the prayer, the priests of the Diocese came to give a sign of respect to the new Bishop by kneeling and kissing his ring. Now the Diocese finally had its own Bishop and the Diocese had taken possession of canonically.
PONTIFICAL MASS ON SUNDAY
On Sunday St. Henry’s Cathedral was once again about to burst, as Bishop Raimo started his first Mass as Bishop in his own Cathedral. Fortunately one could also participate in the Mass in the parish hall, where one could also receive Communion. There were almost 20 Bishops and priests present at Mass.
The choir of the parish, led by Fr. Marie-Augustin, sang Psalm 23, the Lord is my Shepherd. Marko Pitkäniemi played the organ in his well-known professional manner and during Communion Pius Tervaportti, who sings in the Cantores Minores choir, sang Armas Maasalo’s Tuhansin kielin as well as César Franck’s popular Panis Angelicus.
After the Mass the participants traveled along the snow-covered roads for church coffee, which took place in the facilities of the Eira High School for Adults, as the parish hall was much too small for the occasion. The joyful atmosphere and great conversation continued throughout these days of celebration and will strengthen us all in our Christian lives for a long time to come, both in the Church and in the world.
Thanks be to God for the new Bishop!