WASHINGTON, D.C.— It’s official: the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS), USA, now has two new auxiliary bishops. Bishops William (Bill) J. Muhm and Joseph L. Coffey were ordained Monday—the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord—at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D, Archbishop for the Military Services, served as principal celebrant and ordaining Prelate before a congregation of more than twelve-hundred on a beautiful spring afternoon in Washington, DC.
His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of Bishop Muhm’s home Archdiocese of New York, and the Most Reverend Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Bishop Coffey’s home Archdiocese of Philadelphia, served as co-consecrators. Other prelates participating in the solemn rite included Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia; Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and former Archbishop for the Military Services, USA; Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States; and AMS Auxiliary Bishops Richard B. Higgins, F. Richard Spencer, and Neal J. Buckon. A total of fifteen bishops concelebrated the Mass, as did 147 priests.
In his homily, Archbishop Broglio offered a candid kind of job description for the new leadership role Bishops Muhm and Coffey will assume in the AMS’s mission to bring Jesus Christ to those who serve: “Episcopal ministry in this global archdiocese is not easy,” he said. “Travel dominates the weeks. Bureaucracy muddies the relationship between bishop and priest. Many masters compete for attention. Through it all, you must imitate the Blessed Virgin by keeping your eyes on the truly important One and His commission to you to preach the Gospel to the men, women, and children entrusted to our care… You and I believe that we have a fundamental irreplaceable gift to offer to our Nation and to the People of God. Enshrined in the Constitution is the freedom of Religion and this archdiocese was erected so that it might sustain that freedom for Catholics in the military. We thank them for their giving, by giving of ourselves. We recognize their service by assuring adequate pastoral care in the medical centers of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.” To read the text of Archbishop Broglio’s entire homily, go here.
Following an ancient custom of the Church, Archbishop Broglio questioned the bishops-elect about their resolve to uphold the faith and discharge their duties in the episcopal ministry. The bishops-elect lay prostrate while all gathered joined in prayer for them and the Church. Deacons held the Book of the Gospels over the bishops-elect while Archbishop Broglio and his brother bishops recited the ancient prayer of ordination. The head of each new bishop was anointed with chrism, and he received the Book of the Gospels, his bishop’s ring, miter, and pastoral staff or crosier. “Lean on the crosier you are about to receive,” Archbishop Broglio said in his homily, “but also use it to snare the lost sheep… Allow the miter to remind you of the third dimension of your new ministry: to sanctify. Help our secular world rediscover a sense of the sacred.”
Bishop Muhm will serve as Archbishop Broglio’s Episcopal Vicar for U.S. Military installations in Europe and Asia. He replaces Bishop Spencer, who is moving back to the U.S. to serve as Episcoal Vicar for the eastern part of the country. Bishop Coffey will serve as Episcopal Vicar for Veterans Affairs, replacing Bishop Higgins, who is retiring.