GAYLORD, Mich. – Seventy-three days after Pope Francis appointed Father Jeffrey J. Walsh as the Sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, the Scranton native was ordained and installed at a Mass at Saint Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral.
Hundreds of family, friends, clergy, religious and lay faithful attended the joyous Cathedral Mass.
“What was once a gift in Scranton is now a gift in Gaylord,” said the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, who served as principal ordaining bishop and celebrant. “He is a remarkably accomplished parish priest and he brings all of that to you.”
Drawing upon the parable of the owner and vineyard workers from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, which was proclaimed during the Ordination Mass, Archbishop Vigneron said Bishop Walsh is now being sent into a new vineyard – in the Diocese of Gaylord – which is near to Jesus’ heart.
“Bishop Walsh does not come to you as some sort of mere generic laborer. He is the man who he is with individual gifts and talents, with a history of discipleship, all of which receives a new quality, a new character, a new consecration, a new stamp today,” he said.
The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, and the Most Rev. Walter A. Hurley, Apostolic Administrator of Gaylord, were co-ordaining bishops.
Concelebrants were the many bishops and priests in attendance, including Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Several of Bishop Walsh’s brother priests from the Diocese of Scranton also made the trip to Michigan for the Ordination Mass.
In his homily, Archbishop Vigneron encouraged everyone in the Cathedral to immerse themselves in the grace being poured forth by the Holy Spirit.
“We are here, in the Cathedral today, not as witnesses, not as spectators, but as participants in something that the Holy Spirit accomplishes beyond any human agency,” the Archbishop explained. “We want our hearts to be on fire with praise and thanksgiving.”
The Archbishop used the closing moments of his homily to speak to Bishop Walsh directly, saying he was chosen for episcopal office because he is a friend of Jesus – and urged him to “seize this grace, this hour.”
The homily followed the presentation of Bishop-elect Walsh and the reading of the apostolic letter from Pope Francis by Archbishop Pierre, calling the Bishop-elect to episcopal ministry.
The homily was followed by the Promise of the Elect in which the Bishop-elect declared his resolve to uphold the faith and to discharge his duties with fidelity, and the Litany of Supplication where the Bishop-elect laid face down in the Cathedral as names of saints were sung in prayer.
In the Laying on of Hands and the Prayer of Ordination, Archbishop Vigneron placed his hands on Bishop-elect Walsh without speaking and was followed by all of the other bishops present doing the same to signify the unity of the Apostolic College.
Archbishop Vigneron also anointed the head of Bishop Walsh, presented him with a Book of the Gospels, placed a ring on his right hand and presented him with a miter and crosier.
“Receive the Gospel, and preach the word of God with all patience and sound teaching,” the Archbishop said in presenting the Book of Gospels.
After the closing prayer, the newly ordained bishop walked through the aisles of the Gaylord Cathedral to offer blessings to all before delivering his first remarks as bishop.
Calling the Mass “uplifting,” he expressed gratitude to everyone for attending.
“The Church has what the world needs,” Bishop Walsh said. “Prayer and the Sacraments are what make our faith come alive and help us stay close to Christ and be the best that we can be.”
Bishop Walsh said he is eager to go around the Diocese of Gaylord with “missionary zeal,” saying he is looking forward to not only enjoying the beauty of his new diocese but also getting to know its people and pray with them.
“As we pray, we have the life of Christ grow in us and we realize that we can take a backseat and let his spirit work through us,” Bishop Walsh explained.
The new Bishop concluded his remarks with one of the petitions in the Liturgy of the Hours on the day of the Mass, “Teach us to enter more deeply into the mystery of the Church, that it may be more effective for ourselves and for the world as the Sacrament of Salvation.”
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Walsh to serve the Diocese of Gaylord Dec. 21, 2021, with the announcement coming from Archbishop Pierre.
Bishop Walsh, ordained a priest in 1994, was serving as pastor at Saint Rose of Lima Parish and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, both in Carbondale, at the time of his appointment. The 56 year old is a native of Scranton and a graduate of Scranton Central High School. He graduated from the University of Scranton in 1987 and went on to complete his priestly studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md., earning a Master of Divinity. Bishop Walsh also received a Master of Arts in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in 1999 and a Master of Social Work from Marywood University in 2010.
During his 27 years as a priest in the Diocese of Scranton, Bishop Walsh also served in various positions in the Diocese of Scranton from Assistant Pastor and Pastor, Sacramental Minister, Episcopal Vicar and Episcopal Vicar for Clergy. He also served in a variety of diocesan positions, including Director of Religious Formation in high schools, Chaplain to the Deaf Community, Diocesan Vocations Director and also Diocesan Deputy Secretary for Catholic Human Services.