Episcopal ordination filled the soul
Hundreds of devout souls came out on Friday to celebrate one of the residents of Boulder City, Rev. Gregory Gordon, who was ordained the first auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas.
People traveled from all over southern Nevada, California, and across the country to attend. There might even have been a few international visitors.
The crowd size was more like that of a concert or major sporting event. Parking outside the Most Holy Redeemer Shrine in Las Vegas has overflowed into nearby streets and industrial parks.
The ordination was unlike anything I’ve been to before, including the ordination of a Methodist minister.
I have attended many services in a Catholic church, but Gordon’s ordination was filled with centuries-old rituals and ceremonies.
The prestige of his new position deserved the attention he was receiving.
In some ways, the ordination reminded me of Jewish holy days. Agents from the Metropolitan Police Department were on hand to make sure there were no incidents and to help direct traffic. Special tickets were required for entry. Ushers helped people find seats. And the participants were dressed in their finery.
But once the service started, that’s where the similarities end. The ordination was conducted in English, Spanish, and a language I believe to be Latin. I have never seen so many officiants participate in the same service.
There was an assembly of bishops and archbishops, each wearing ceremonial robes and mitres. Whenever they had to move, they were escorted by altar servants.
There was a ceremonial choir and what looked like a full-fledged orchestra, although there were probably fewer musicians.
A program, which contained the names of the officiants, prayers, and music, was helpful as it explained many symbols used throughout the ordination ceremony. It also left a lot of unexplained for those who did not know the rites.
As with any church service, a single word or two did not adequately describe what the uninitiated were about to see or how long it would take.
Even though I didn’t understand much of what was going on, I certainly appreciated the solemnity of the occasion and the pageantry.
Gordon, a 1978 graduate of Boulder City High School, was overcome with emotion throughout the nearly three-hour ceremony. His smile was as wide as it could get as he walked around the shrine showing everyone who gathered there his apostolic letter from Pope Francis announcing his appointment.
When he finally got a chance to address the congregation, his voice quivered as he struggled to hold back tears of joy, describing the meaning of the day, thanking everyone for their support and pledging to fulfill their new role to the best of their ability.
It was a beautiful event and whether you are of the Catholic faith or not, it filled the soul with a spirit of benevolence and brotherhood.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at [email protected] or 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.