BUFFALO, NY — Richard Joseph Malone, the 14th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, was installed Friday afternoon as leader of Western New York’s Catholic faithful at a Mass inside St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.
The ceremony was attended by more than 1,000 people, including dozens of bishops from across New York State and around the country, as well as hundreds of priests and laity members from the Buffalo diocese.
The installation ceremony began with the reading of a document from Pope Benedict XVI designating Malone as the new Catholic bishop for Western New York. He replaces Bishop Edward U. Kmiec.
Malone, 66, a Salem, Mass. native, was resplendent in scarlet robes, set off by red and gold tassels and a cream-colored mitre. He accepted leadership of the diocese in a warm and welcoming manner during a ceremony laced with thoughtfulness and good humor.
In his homily, Malone, who comes to the Buffalo diocese from his past position as leader of Catholics in the state of Maine, noted that his installment Mass happened to land on the feast day of St. Lawrence, the martyr who was memorably grilled for his faith on a hot gridiron.
“A sturdy legend has it as he was being burned to death on the gridiron, he said to his executioners, ‘I’m done on this side, turn me over,'” said Malone. “When the date for this Mass was being worked out, I received a gracious voicemail from Cardinal Dolan. … He said, ‘Hey, Richard, Aug. 10, isn’t that the date of the martyrdom of St. Lawrence? …What are you planning on getting grilled up there in Buffalo?’”
Malone’s Mass of Installation — which began with cloudy skies that turned sunny by the end, with beams of light setting off the colored stained-glass windows of St. Joseph’s — drew Catholic faithful from all over the diocese.
Among the crowd were Buffalo residents George and Jackie Wopperer, who have been parishioners at St. Joseph’s for 23 years.
“I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this,” said Jackie Wopperer. “We love Bishop Kmiec. We think he’s a wonderful person. From what we’ve read about Bishop Malone, he’s wonderful, too.
“He’s got some pretty big shoes to fill.”
Another guest at the Mass, which was attended by those with tickets, was Nicole Tzetzo of Williamsville, a member of the bishops committee for laity for eight years.
“I’m so excited,” Tzetzo said. “It’s so exciting today. We’re entering a new phase having someone new in charge.”
Tzetzo described the scene inside the cathedral as “mesmerizing.”
Although Malone has moved to Buffalo, he will continue to oversee the Maine diocese. Last month, Pope Benedict XVI appointed the bishop apostolic administrator in Maine, effective the day of his installation in Buffalo.
Malone will continue to serve Catholics in Maine and western New York until the pope names a new bishop for the Diocese of Portland.