cs photos by rafael crisostomo
New Washington Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout blesses the congregation of about 1,200 people who attended his Dec. 29 episcopal ordination at the Cathedral of St. Matthew. Behind Bishop Knestout is Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl.
cs photos by rafael crisostomo New Washington Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout blesses the congregation of about 1,200 people who attended his Dec. 29 episcopal ordination at the Cathedral of St. Matthew. Behind Bishop Knestout is Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl.
In a joyful ordination Mass marked by rich ceremony and tradition, Archbishop Donald Wuerl ordained Bishop Barry Knestout as a new auxiliary bishop for Washington during a Dec. 29 Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Bishop Knestout serves as the archdiocese's moderator of the curia (chief of staff) and vicar for administration, and earlier headed its Office of Youth Ministry and served as a priest secretary to Cardinal James Hickey and then Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, in addition to serving as a parish priest in the years following his 1989 ordination.

"This ordination today has special meaning for the Church of Washington," the archbishop said in his homily. "The bishop we ordain today comes also as a native son of the archdiocese Ð one who received the faith and was formed in it here and who already brings a sense of continuity with its pastoral life."

Bishop Knestout, who grew up attending St. Pius X Parish in Bowie, became the first native of Prince George's County to be ordained a bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington. His mother, Caroline, and all eight of his brothers and sisters and several nieces and nephews attended the Mass. His brother, Father Mark Knestout, the archdiocese's director of the Office of Worship, served as Bishop Knestout's master of ceremonies during the ordination and helped coordinate the planning for the Mass.

In remarks after Communion, Bishop Knestout, who is 46, thanked his family for their love and support, and he especially thanked his parents for their example. His father, Deacon Thomas Knestout, died in 1997, and the new bishop's mother, Caroline, is a retired nurse and attends daily Mass.

Addressing his mother, the new bishop said, "You and Dad have given your children the most precious gift you could give Ð faith, and that continues to bear fruit."

In his opening remarks, Archbishop Wuerl also thanked the new bishop's family, saying, "As this is a joy for you, it is a joy for us."

The new bishop's family of faith in the Archdiocese of Washington greeted him warmly with applause during the Mass, after he had processed through the cathedral giving them a blessing, and after his remarks. The 1,200 guests at the episcopal ordination included parishioners from St. Pius X, his home parish; from St. John the Evangelist in Silver Spring, where he served as pastor; from the Church of the Annunciation in Washington where he now is in residence; and from many other parishes, including St. Bartholomew in Bethesda and St. Peter in Waldorf, where he served as an associate pastor in his early years as a priest.

Serving as co-consecrators at the Mass were Washington Auxiliary Bishops Francisco Gonzalez and Martin Holley. Eighteen bishops participated in the ordination, including Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien and Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde, the spiritual leaders of the two neighboring dioceses. Several other participating bishops had special connections to Washington, including retired Auxiliary Bishop Leonard Olivier; Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who worked closely with the new bishop when both served the late Cardinal James Hickey; retired Bishop David Foley of Birmingham, Ala., a Chevy Chase native and formerly a longtime priest and administrator in Washington.

Four cardinals also participated in the episcopal ordination, including Cardinal William Baum, Washington's archbishop from 1973-80 who confirmed the future bishop; and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington whom the new bishop had earlier served as a priest secretary. Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, a Capuchin Franciscan priest who earlier led the Spanish Catholic Center in Washington, also participated; as did Cardinal William Keeler, the archbishop emeritus of Washington. About 170 priests, 40 deacons and dozens of women and men religious also attended the Mass.

In his homily, Archbishop Wuerl noted that the second reading from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians "reminded us that Christ is our Hope," and he pointed out that Bishop Knestout had chosen "Christ Our Hope" as his episcopal motto. That was the theme of Pope Benedict XVI's April visit to the United States, and then-Msgr. Barry Knestout, who served as co-chair of the Papal Visit Committee in Washington.

"As Pope Benedict XVI taught us in his encyclical, Spe Salvi, and as he repeated here in our archdiocese at the Mass at Nationals Park on April 17, 'the one who has hope lives differently. The one who has hope has new life,'" Archbishop Wuerl said in his homily. The archbishop later added, "May you show that joy of ministry that clearly radiated from the face of Pope Benedict throughout his time here in this nation and our archdiocese. While we still have much to do, we live in hope because we know and rejoice in the wisdom that Christ has already overcome the world."

In his remarks after Communion, Bishop Knestout asked people to pray for him "that I might be an effective instrument of His faith, His joy and His hope... May God be in our hearts and give us the joy and hope of Christ this Christmas time and always."

Archbishop Wuerl in his homily encouraged the new bishop to follow the apostles' mission of bringing the "saving power of Christ into this world" by teaching the faith. "Your first responsibility is that of teacher,"the archhbishop said.

The ordination Mass included many poignant symbols of the episcopacy, and priests who have played a special role in Bishop Knestout's life carried the signs of his office.

¥ Father Lee Fangmeyer, the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Derwood and one of the 10 priests ordained for Washington in the future bishop's priestly ordination class 20 years ago, carried the new bishop's ring, a sign of fidelity.

¥ Msgr. James Watkins, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington and another member of the new bishop's priestly ordination class, carried the miter, the pointed bishops' hat that resembles that worn by the high priest in the Temple in Jerusalem.

¥ Father George Stuart, the archdiocesan archivist and vice chancellor and another member of the priestly ordination class of 1989, carried the new bishop's crosier, the shepherd's staff.

Msgr. Robert Panke, the director of priestly vocations for the archdiocese, carried the sacred chrism, and the attending priests to the bishop-elect were two other priest friends: Msgr. Peter Vaghi, the head of the Presbyteral Council for the archdiocese and the pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda; and Msgr. Charles Antonicelli, the archdiocese's vicar for canonical services and the pastor of St. Joseph's Chruch on Capitol Hill. The bishop-elect was presented by Msgr. Michael Fisher, the archdiocesan secretary for ministerial life, and Jane Belford, the archdiocesan chancellor, read Pope Benedict's proclamation appointing Bishop Knestout to his new role.

Eight members of the new bishop's family brought up the offertory gifts at the Mass, including his mother, two brothers, two sisters and a niece and two nephews.

In his homily, Archbishop Wuerl noted that the crosier "is a sign of your responsibility to keep watch over the whole flock so that some day when our waiting in joyful hope is complete you may be able to present to Christ those with whom you have journeyed as shepherd and teacher."

Archbishop Wuerl noted the example of St. Thomas Becket, the martyred archbishop of Canterbury. "To serve the Church is to serve Christ Ð proclaim the Gospel and guide God's holy people, because to give yourself to the Church is to give yourself to Christ," he said.

Noting the bishop's role "to teach, to lead and to sanctify," the archbishop said, "As you face the challenges of episcopal service, we pray that you will always be sustained by God's grace."

In his remarks, Bishop Knestout thanked his brother priests for their support, pointing out "what wonderful brothers they are. One can't help but be strengthened by their faith and encouragement."

Bishop Knestout also praised the example of Cardinal Hickey, whom he served as priest secretary from 1994 until the cardinal's death in 2004. He said he was honored to serve Archbishop Wuerl. "He serves this Church with courage and dedication. He's a wonderful shepherd."

The new bishop, also thanked his coworkers in the archdiocese for their help. "I feel filled with God's grace today," he said.

In his closing remarks, Archbishop Wuerl praised the faith of the people of Washington, saying, "Thank you for what you bring to the Church, your gifts, your dedication, your commitment."