Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fiat Lux! Congratulations to our new Bishop!

Bishop-elect Joseph Kopacz is to be ordained and installed today as the eleventh bishop of Jackson. This special Mass begins at 12 Noon at the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in downtown Jackson. Needless to say, today is a good day.

You can watch the Ordination and Installation Mass LIVE online, at 12 Noon (Central Time), at

The tickets for the ordination and installation included a detail that many observers might have missed: the Bishop-elect’s coat-of-arms (above). According to Church tradition, whenever a new bishop is named, he adopts a coat of arms that includes “charges” or symbols that are meant to indicate his background and personal interests.

Bishop-elect Kopacz’s arms include a three-fold division of the shield and three “charges:” a book with a sword (usually associated with Apostle Paul and/or defense of the faith), a heraldic rose (sometimes used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary), and the Chi Rho (an ancient monogram for Christ) emanating with rays of light.

When it comes to the charges on his shield, the bishop is the one who chooses their symbolism. So, the book and sword on Bishop-elect Kopacz's shield may not refer to St. Paul at all; they may have a different meaning. The same can be said for the other charges and it will be interesting to see what they mean for the new bishop.

But the new bishop also chooses an episcopal motto and, since these are words (as opposed to symbols), their meaning is often a little clearer for observers. Bishop-elect Kopacz has chosen for his motto the Latin phrase Fiat Lux, or “Let there be light,” a phrase that references first recorded words of God spoken at the dawn of creation and alludes to the charge of Christ to his followers to be “the light of the world.”

The bishop of a diocese is the leader of the Church in that diocese and the supreme pastor of his diocesan flock. He’s charged with the trifold responsibilities of teaching, governing and sanctifying the faithful under his care. To do these things effectively, he has to have a prayerful commitment to seeking God’s will and a stouthearted dedication to strong, yet compassionate leadership.

Leadership = visibility. His willingness to bring light and be a light in our state can only serve to embolden all of the faithful to live out the fullness of their Catholicism and to be “light” in their own communities and families.

His light will attract the attention of the faithful and will enlighten the steps that they need to take to stay on the road to salvation. In turn, their light will draw even others to the true light – the light of Christ.

Yes, Bishop-elect Kopacz: “let there be light!” Under your leadership, may we, as Catholics in our state, be a bright and shining example of Christ’s love as we serve and worship in beauty and in truth. We accept the challenge!

Bishop-elect Kopacz, a Pennsylvania native, is now a Mississippian and we enthusiastically welcome him with open arms… and a tall glass of sweet tea!