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Mass held in celebration of Rhoades

Katlyn Smith | Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Notre Dame celebrated the arrival of Bishop Kevin Rhoades to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend with a Mass of thanksgiving at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Tuesday.

Rhoades, former bishop of the Harrisburg, Pa., diocese, succeeded Bishop John D’Arcy, who retired on Jan. 13. Both Rhoades and University President Fr. John Jenkins presided the mass.

“I hope he feels this is home and not a place to visit,” Jenkins said.

The Observer reported in a Nov. 16 article that Rhoades was one of some 80 bishops who denounced President Obama’s appearance at the 2009 commencement in a letter to Jenkins last spring. Despite past tensions, Rhoades said he anticipates a close relationship with Notre Dame.

“I believe, as Pope John Paul II said when he visited the United States in 1987, that bishops should be seen not as external agents but as participants in the life of the Catholic university,” Rhoades said during his homily.

Rhoades defined this relationship as one of his new obligations as successor to D’Arcy.

“As I undertake my new responsibilities as Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, I am very conscious of my responsibilities, my responsibility particularly to strengthen and promote the Catholic universities in my Diocese and especially to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their catholic identity,” Rhoades said.

Rhoades explored the role of these Catholic universities in the larger society.

“Our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of our church and truly serve societies,” Rhoades said. “They become places in which God’s presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ’s being for others.”

For Notre Dame, in particular, Rhoades said he hoped that the University would uphold its Catholic heritage.

“This is my prayer for the University of Notre Dame — that it may always be faithful to its Catholic mission by constantly growing in its commitment and witness to truth and charity,” Rhoades said. “That our Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles pervade all aspects of University life — teaching, research, curricular and extracurricular activities.”

Rhoades also recognized his reception from the Notre Dame community.

“In the past few months, I have received an incredibly warm welcome from Fr. Jenkins and the whole Notre Dame community, including the priests and the resident students at Siegfried Hall and Morrissey Manor, [where] I celebrated dorm mass last week,” he said.

At the end of mass, Jenkins presented Rhoades with a bishop’s staff depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe, drawn by a member of the art department. The image had particular significance for Rhoades, who was ordained as bishop on the feast of Juan Diego, to whom our Lady of Guadalupe appeared.

In an interview with The Observer during a reception following the mass, Rhoades said he looks forward to integrating into the Notre Dame community.

“I am looking forward to having a lot of opportunities to be here on campus to celebrate liturgy and to really be a part of the community,” Rhoades said. “As Pope John Paul said and I said in my homily, the bishop shouldn’t be seen as an external agent, but as a real part of the community and that’s my hope and my prayer.”