The Diocese of Gary entered new territory this afternoon as it officially lost its bishop. Bishop Hying celebrated his Mass of Installation as the bishop of the Diocese of Madison. At that moment, the See of Gary became vacant. At Holy Angels Cathedral, a bishop’s mitre sits upon the cathedra, the chair that is only occupied by a bishop, as a reminder that we await the appointment of a new bishop.
Now, that is not to say that we are leaderless. The moment that a see becomes vacant, the College of Consultors become in charge as the caretakers of the diocese. It is incumbent upon the College of Consultors to meet shortly after the vacancy and elect one of the priests of the diocese to act as the Diocesan Administrator until Rome appoints a new bishop to the diocese and the new bishop takes possession of the diocese in his Mass of Installation.
Tomorrow will be a busy day for me. I have the 6:30 a.m. Mass at the parish and then a 10:00 a.m. Funeral Mass. After the funeral, I will head to the Pastoral Center to meet with the consultors so that we may elect an administrator. God willing, by tomorrow afternoon, we will have a designated Diocesan Administrator.
An administrator has most of the authority of a diocesan bishop except for a couple of things that are reserved to a bishop alone. The administrator’s main job is to keep the diocese running smoothly as it awaits a new bishop. The administrator is not to innovate but rather to remain relatively behind the scenes. He will be responsible for the scheduling of Confirmations and certain diocesan liturgies such as the Rite of Reception at the beginning of Advent.
An administrator cannot assign priests as pastors. If a parish becomes open and there is no bishop, a Diocesan Administrator can appoint a priest to be an administrator of the open parish. There is a lot to do and yet little to do if that makes any sense.
Kindly pray for the Diocesan Consultors tomorrow as we invoke the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit in our election of a Diocesan Administrator.