Despite snowy roads and freezing temperatures, Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral was full Jan. 3 for the Mass celebrating the installation of Bishop Salvatore R. Matano as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Rochester.
A native of Providence, R.I., and a priest for more than 40 years, Bishop Matano had served as bishop of the Diocese of Burlington, Vt., since 2005. Bishop Matano succeeds Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark, who led
the Diocese of Rochester for 33 years; his canonically required retirement at age 75 was accepted by the Vatican in September 2012. Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse Robert J. Cunningham served as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Rochester for the 15 months between Bishop Clark’s retirement and Bishop Matano’s installation.
The Rite of Installation began with Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano reading aloud the apostolic mandate from Pope Francis that appointed Bishop Matano as bishop of Rochester. After promising to faithfully serve the spiritual needs of the local church, Bishop Matano was escorted to the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, by Archbishop Vigano and Bishop Cunningham. Bishop Matano took his seat — unused since Bishop Clark’s retirement — to loud applause.
In his homily, which was peppered with a few quips about the snowy weather, Bishop Matano expressed his gratitude to and for many, including the people of the Dioceses of Rochester and Burlington and Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. He noted Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, under whom he served at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, for teaching him “the essential ingredients of being a good bishop: to love God, to love his Church, to willingly and lovingly serve his people and to never lose patience, but to serve in charity.”
He offered his thanks to Bishop Cunningham for his service as apostolic administrator and his particular gratitude to Bishop Clark for warmly and kindly welcoming him to Rochester. “Your Excellency, you are a true canonical icon of stability in office,” he said, drawing applause from the congregation.
Bishop Matano thanked the many bishops and priests in attendance, noting their essential ministry to the Church. “Without the priesthood, there is no Eucharist, and without the Eucharist the Catholic Church loses its foundation, its purpose, identity and mission,” he said. He also praised the dedicated service of consecrated religious women and men, citing the Sisters of Mercy and the De La Salle Christian Brothers who taught him in grammar and high school, and of permanent deacons. At several points throughout his homily, Bishop Matano stressed the need to pray for and foster vocations.
Bishop Matano said that since his appointment, “many have reminded me of the challenges that I shall face as I live to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and the teachings of his Church at a time when many are not prepared to receive this teaching or may even have rejected it.” But, he said, “I’m not the only Catholic in this diocese. If I have challenges, then we all have challenges. It is the responsibility of every baptized Catholic to fulfill faithfully what Christ asks of us as his followers.”
That response begins with attending Mass every weekend, Bishop Matano said, noting that churches “are not museums or mere testimonies to the past,” but rather “consecrated houses of the Lord where the Holy Eucharist is celebrated” and that “the success of any parish, any institution, school or university, depends upon the support of its members and their fidelity and devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist.”
Bishop Matano also called on the faithful to spread the Good News, saying, “When we love someone, we always tell them the truth. And because we are called to love one another, we must tell them the truth of our Catholic faith.” He asked parents to take seriously the duty to raise their children in the faith and for all to “help establish a true culture of life that respects the dignity of every human person from the very moment of conception until natural death.”
He also addressed those who are estranged from the Church, asking them to “please come home. This is not the plea of Bishop Matano. This is only his voice echoing the voice of Jesus.”
Before Mass ended, Bishop Matano made his first appointment as Rochester’s bishop, naming Father Joseph Hart vicar general, a position he had held under Bishop Clark.
Following the Mass, Bishop Matano briefly addressed members of the press, saying he felt “great joy” and “the peace of the angels.”
Bishop Clark, too, spoke of joy and peace. “For many years, I’ve known this time was coming and anticipated the day with joy and peace. Now it’s here. It’s quite emotional,” he said. Sitting in the Cathedral brought back many memories, he said, especially of its recent renovation, which for him symbolizes the vitality of the community. Asked if he had any words of wisdom for his successor, Bishop Clark said simply to “enjoy the goodness of the people.”
Bishop Cunningham echoed those sentiments. “I had the privilege of serving the diocese for 15 months,” he said, a diocese that “is composed of many people who have a strong faith, ardent hope and lively charity. Come to know and love them.”