The Catholic Diocese of Biloxi has a new bishop.
Bishop Thomas Rodi was ordained during a Monday afternoon ceremony at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary cathedral in downtown Biloxi.
A capacity crowd filled the church to witness the historic occasion. Hundreds of others viewed the WLOX broadcast of the ceremony on a large screen TV at the coast coliseum and convention center, where a reception for the new bishop was held.
The ceremony was marked with symbolism and filled with tradition. The ordination of a bishop is certainly no ordinary occasion for Catholics. And a faithful crowd at Nativity Cathedral helped Thomas Rodi celebrate his special moment and this milestone for the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.
"Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim."
A recurring theme of the ordination mass was reflected in the processional music: God's love.
The presiding Archbishop reminded Thomas Rodi of the foundation of faith in the Biloxi diocese.
"He stands upon the foundation, the growth, the joy of the faith in Mississippi that has gone on before him. Not least Bishop Howze and the priests and those who are with him," said Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb of Mobile.
Priests from throughout the diocese filled the front rows of the cathedral as music echoed upward.
"Glory in the highest, peace to his people, peace on earth," said those in attendance.
Traditional music and much symbolism filled the special service. Archbishop Lipscomb offered prayer for the diocese's new leader.
"Help your chosen servant, Thomas, as pastor for Christ to watch over your flock. Help him to be a faithful teacher, a wise administrator and a holy priest."
Scripture readings came from the book of Isaiah and Second Corinthians. The gospel message reflected familiar words from the book of St. John.
"This is my commandment. Love one another, as I have loved you."
Catholic tradition and symbolism followed the readings. First came authority from the Pope.
"Do you have the mandate from the Holy See ?" asked Archbishop Lipscomb.
"We have," came the answer.
Bishop designate Rodi answered a series of questions from the presiding bishop prior to his official ordination.
"Are you resolved to be faithful and constant in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ?"
Ancient tradition calls for the bishop designate to lay down before the altar as prayers are recited. The presiding Archbishop then anoints the candidate's head with oil. The presentation of a bishop's ring and staff followed.
His formal ordination complete, Bishop Rodi takes his seat in the bishop's chair on the altar. At that moment, he assumes his new position.