Most of our family travelled to Joliet, IL this week for the installation of our friend, Bishop Dan Conlon, as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet. Sarah did not make the trip due to prior commitments, so we were without one, and we certainly missed her!
We have known Dan since we moved here almost 15 years ago. His house sat across the alley from ours, so we had the opportunity to get to know him very well. I'm glad we did. Since we met him, he has gone from being our parish priest, to the Bishop of Steubenville, OH, and now is the 5th Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, IL.
The process of installing a Bishop is a little different than an ordination (which is what we witnessed 9 years ago in Steubenville). I wasn't really sure what to expect, since it truly was just a job change (promotion) for him.
I am so glad we went! There were about 20 people from Holy Redeemer that made the trek to Joliet. All of us commented that we felt the red carpet had been laid out for us. We just went to support Dan! When we arrived at the hotel, there was a reception, so we could start to figure out the plan for the time we were there. I had noticed in the invitation that there were shuttle services to all of the events, but I didn't realize we wouldn't have to drive our vehicle for 2 days if we didn't want to!
One of our "vehicles" for the week
We arrived Wednesday late afternoon. Our original plan was to let the kids swim for a bit before we went to evening prayer, but traffic prevented that from happening. We ended up checking in, going to the reception room at the hotel for a bit, then getting ready for the evening's festivities.
Evening prayer was kind of the "introduction" of Dan to the diocese. First of all, the Cathedral is magnificent. Beautiful stained glass windows, an altar sort of in the middle (there are pews on three sides of the altar, but it sits up a few steps (Jacob Rutschilling told me later that when they remodelled the cathedral, the altar was originally level with the floor -- but after just ONE MASS, they reconstructed it and raised it up so that all could see.) The Cardinal of Chicago came out and announced Dan (I wish I had had a better seat to watch this) -- and he was standing behind two double doors. Apparently (I didn't hear it), he knocked at the door and when his name was announced, the doors opened, and the music began. The procession (which was not nearly the procession we would see the next day!) was awesome and brought tears to my eyes. This is a truly awesome experience to witness at any time, but to witness this happening to someone we know so well was overwhelming!
Our family in church just after Vespers
|The Kaisers and the Rutschillings with Bishop Dan immediately after Vespers|
The first of the Knights of Columbus
Some of the many different Bishops present
I found Archbishop Schnurr and past Archbishop Pilarczyk (I missed Bishop Binzer although he was there, too)
On Thursday, at the actual installation, the pomp and circumstance was amazing. The procession was led by the Knights of Columbus (who knew there were so many plume colors for their hats?), then deacons, and priests, and bishops, and Cardinal George of Chicago. Bishop Dan came in and it was very obvious he was overwhelmed. His vestments were beautiful and it truly was surreal to see this man, whom I have seen many times in his back yard mowing his grass in a t-shirt and shorts, being showered with all of this. I looked up at the altar shortly before mass began and realized that the Bishop's chair had a "coat of arms" on it. I was trying to discern whether or not it was Dan's, or the prior Bishop's, and quickly realized it was his. So awesome and beautiful!
This is not the greatest picture, but was the best I could get from my seat. I was trying to get a photo of ALL of the religious present. Please note to the left of the picture -- most of that side was filled with religious, as was the right side of the altar.
His homilies, always one of my favorite parts of his masses, were, both days, inspiring and to the point. On Wednesday evening, he began with talking about his mother and her pie baking (I glanced over at her and she was smiling and enjoying this topic). It cracked me up when he left Vespers that night, because as he was walking towards her, she wagged her finger at him. It's nice to know that even Bishops have mothers that still keep them in line! :)
(I did give him a hard time about his introduction to his homily at Thursday's Installation, because he thanked the people of Steubenville and Cincinnati for being there for him -- he clarified that he meant the DIOCESE of Cincinnati and that we were, in fact, included in that. :)
I LOVE this picture of him preparing to consecrate the Eucharist
And now, a moment to celebrate with Joliet's new Bishop
I wish this was clearer, but this moment happened too quickly for me -- Cardinal George stopped to congratulate Dan's parents. It was a lovely moment.
After Vespers and also after the Installation, there was a reception in the hall attached to the church. We took some photos both days -- and on Thursday was able to get a photo of all of the New Bremen people in attendance.
Later Thursday evening, we were invited to his home for a casual supper with his family and a few close friends. It was nice to finally be able to chat with him in a relaxed atmosphere, even though we didn't have nearly enough time to spend with him. His home is beautiful -- even though he's only been there four or so days.
Betsy and I were ready to welcome everyone to the party! (and Jacob, too!)
View of the deck from the backyard area
I mentioned to him how much I appreciated being able to bring our children. I know that they will remember this forever -- they had some really neat questions during and after, watching what was going on......he made me smile when he said that he was so glad that they were there.
We somehow found out that he was celebrating the 8 am mass on Friday morning, so we went -- "we" being the Rutschillings, Dan's parents, and myself. I think he was pleasantly surprised to see us there. He asked why we were there! LOL I said, "Well, where else would I be?" to which he replied, "Hmmm.....I don't know, bed??" LOL His mom was so worried that he would oversleep and miss mass. :)
I really can't believe this is the last stop for him. I hope that wherever the Lord leads him, that he will answer the call and allow us to continue celebrating with him. He is such a gift to the Catholic Church. I ask your prayers for him as he enters this new phase in his life, that he will be able to give to others what he has been delivering to folks all along his path: a love of the Lord and the Eucharist.
In the meantime, I thank him for all he has done, and continues to do for our family, both our blood family and our church family.
God bless you, Bishop Dan!
Photo of the very front of church -- but eternally the reason for our being. Beautiful.
(as a side note, this is up far enough I saw a guy get out a ladder to extinguish the candles)