BURLINGTON, VT — As priests were gathering in the cafeteria of the Cathedral school, cell phones were ringing with the news of the election of the new pope, Benedict XVI. The new coadjutor bishop of Burlington Vermont, whose ordination brought bishops from across the country, priests and people from the Green Mountain State and Rhode Island and beyond, would be the first priest ordained a bishop in the new pontificate.
Most Rev. Salvatore Matano, a Providence native, alumnus of Catholic schools and seminary there and an alumnus of the Gregorian University in Rome was chosen a few months ago by the late Pope John Paull II as the eventual successor of Bishop Kenneth Angell.
The assembly of 40 bishops, 200 priests, permanent deacons, women and men religious and more than 600 laity packed the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph for the ordination Mass. The lower church had been set with wide screen televisions to involve an overflow crowd.
Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo the apostolic nuncio in the US, and Bishop Matano’s most recent “boss” served as the ordaining bishop, Archbishop O’Malley and Bishop Angell were his principal assistants joined by all the concelebrating bishops.
The ordination began after the Liturgy of the Word with the call by the pope, the litany of the saints, the imposition of hands and prayer of ordination and the giving of the episcopal insignia. The Mass continued as usual and ended with the newly ordained bishop being led throughout the cathedral to impart his blessing.
Applause peppered the ceremony from the arrival of the bishop-elect at the door, to his seating in the cathedra and frequently during his remarks. A man of great humor, he was not at all shy about referring to his height. His evident faith and hope easily make one forget his diminutive stature. What he may lack in physical height he clearly towers with enthusiasm, wit and especially priestly zeal.
An especially poignant moment occurred when Bishop Matano returned to his seat followed by Bishop Angell. The young bishop grabbed the older one’s hand and held both high in a clear indication of team work and unity in faith.
As Archbishop O’Malley said in his remarks at the end of the ordination “Now the Angell has a guardian angel.”