Today, the Chaldean Church witnessed a remarkable event: the birth of a new Bishop. Father Frank Kalabat, now Mar Francis Kalabat, was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle for Chaldeans by His Beatitude, Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, His Excellency Mar Ibrahim N. Ibrahim, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle, and His Excellency Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, MI. In attendance were His Eminence Adam Joseph Cardinal Maida, His Eminence Edmund Casimir Cardinal Szoka, His Excellency Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, our own Bishop, His Excellency, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, and bishops from various ecclesial communities, many from our own Chaldean Church around the world.
The Liturgy began with a procession of shamashe, priests, and bishops while chanting hymns imploring the aid of the saints. The liturgical readings were read (Exodus 3:1, 4-6, 10-12; Titus 2:1-2, 7-8) before the Apostolic Nuncio read to the congregation the Papal Bull, the official hand-lettered document of Pope Francis appointing Mar Francis to his diocese. Prayers were said by the Patriarch and few bishops, here is an example, an excerpt from the prayer that our own Bishop, His Excellency Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, said: “Pour forth, O Lord, Your Spirit upon Your servant Francis standing here before You, and spread the light of Your countenance upon him, that he may become a shepherd of Your flock.” Then the Gospel was read, a Gospel reading very fitting for the consecration of a bishop. It was Matthew 16:13-19 – here, Jesus gave St. Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and the authority to bind and loose. After the reading of the Gospel, Father Frank was laid prostrate on the floor, and the Gospel was placed on his back, symbolizing that all he now has in the world is the Word of God.
Mar Francis began his homily by quoting one of the psalms from Sunday Ramsha, In Marya la baneh bayta, If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor. He spoke of how today was not about him, it was about what God is doing in his Church.
The consecratory prayer was then said by the three bishops, so that Father Frank now received the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the fullness of the holy priesthood. Here is a small part of the prayer the bishops recited while they had their hands on him: “Clothe him, O Lord, with power from on high, that he may bind and loose on earth and in heaven. By the placing of his hands, may all those who are sick be healed and marvels be performed by him in Your holy Name for the service of Your majestic Divinity.” Finally, the archdeacon brought the cope and the miter from the altar, gave them to the Patriarch, who in turn put them on the now Mar Francis, saying, “May our Lord vest you with the mantle of heavenly glory…” Then he gave him the croiser (the Bishop’s staff) representing his new role as shepherd. Mar Francis now stood as the new shepherd of the Chaldeans in the Diocese of Detroit.
At the end of the Liturgy, Mar Ibrahim sat on his throne for the last time, stood up, gave his staff to the new Bishop, who in turn sat on his throne for the first time, replacing his predecessor and becoming the second Bishop of the Diocese. Truly, it was a heavenly event, and we ask that all the angels and saints in heaven, especially the Mother of God, to pray for and assist this new shepherd as he embarks on this journey toward our Lord and bringing the Chaldeans of his Diocese with him.