— by Diocese Montreal
“When a local Church welcomes a new bishop, is that good news?” asked Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal of the 1,500 faithful gathered in the capacity-filled Cathedral on the evening of Monday, September 12. Judging from the standing ovation received by the proclamation of the appointment and the applause that followed this question, yes, it is indeed good news! Msgr. Frank Leo is a diocesan priest in Montreal. He is Vicar General and Moderator of the diocesan Curia of Montreal, and possesses an impressive background.
He is warmly welcomed as Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal! His ordination completes the trio comprising Bishop Alain Faubert, Archbishop Christian Lépine and him.
But is it such good news for the interested party himself? The laughter and facial expressions in response to this question reflect the fact that this ministry is no sinecure. Archbishop Lépine went on, pointing out valid reasons why it is not good news. The new Auxiliary Bishop now becomes effectively bound: bound to the apostolic succession, bound to Jesus Christ in service and, like Him, bound to give of his life even to the death. Still, is it not good news to be at the service of the highest of causes out of love? To pray to and contemplate Jesus Christ alive and active among his people? To experience the twofold passion for Jesus Christ and for his Church? Isn’t the Church worth giving one’s life for?
Bishop Frank Leo’s answer to this election is “Yes.” In Biblical parlance, the election is God’s choice, and comes with the responsibility to act in his Name. According to ecclesial tradition, election is God’s choice, expressed through a complex process which, in the case of an auxiliary bishop, begins with a request from the local bishop and culminates with a decree issued by Pope Francis. This election, combined with the anointing which is part of the episcopal ordination, is enacted by the Holy Spirit, who forever thereafter imbues the personality of the one having received it.
As a sign of his acceptance of the election, Bishop Leo answered ‘Yes’ to the call spoken by Archbishop Lépine and the two bishops performing the ordination with him, Msgr. Serge Poitras and Msgr. Douglas Crosby. In accordance with the ritual, Bishop Leo prostrated himself, a symbolic allusion to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The episcopal college forming a circle in front of the balustrade, the gentle embraces and laying on of hands, the beauty of the music and the singing, the prayerful and vocal participation of the faithful gathered together in spite of the heat – all these elements combined to confer on the moment and on the Eucharistic celebration a divine intensity.
Seated among the congregation were more than one hundred priests, some forty bishops, among whom were several of the Eastern rite and several Bishops Emeriti. The latter included Bishop Jude St-Antoine; Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec; Representative of the Apostolic Nunciature Msgr. Antons Prikulis; Anglican Bishop of Montreal Mary Irwin-Gibson, and many other representatives of a wide diversity of faith communities; civil authorities and dignitaries including representatives of the diplomatic corps; men and women of consecrated life; relatives, friends, colleagues and many faithful from the Italian Canadian community. The liturgy included French, English and Italian, as well as a number of Latin chants. The ceremony was streamed on Salt + Light Media and can be viewed on the Montreal Diocese YouTube channel.
Bishop Leo spoke in conclusion. He expressed thanksgiving and praise, as well as heartfelt thanks to his family and the parishioners from his home parish of Notre-Dame-de-la-Consolata. He reaffirmed his commitment, with and like Our Lady, to bring Christ to the world. He asked that we pray for him.
If present circumstances endure, he will be well supported in accomplishing the mission!