- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2001

Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick greeted thousands of believers in nine languages yesterday as he took charge of the Archdiocese of Washington at a Mass with 92 bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

"I salute the church of Washington, which is to be, in God's mysterious will, my family for the rest of my life," said Archbishop McCarrick, 70, who formally succeeded Cardinal James A. Hickey at a prayer service Wednesday night.

"This great church of Washington has been in a sense a gathering place for all the nations," the former archbishop of Newark, N.J., said in his first public address as spiritual leader of the Washington area's 510,000 Roman Catholics.

All seven U.S. cardinals attended the installation along with many priests, the diplomatic corps and D.C. officials, including Mayor Anthony A. Williams, police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, filling the shrine to capacity.

Once Archbishop McCarrick took his seat on a stone throne at the side of the altar area, 27 persons of the Christian, Jewish and Muslims faiths filed by to greet him personally.

"I join with everyone here this afternoon to give thanks to God," said Cardinal Hickey, who led the Archdiocese of Washington for 20 years and retired last year at age 80.

Pope John Paul II selected Archbishop McCarrick on Nov. 21 to lead the District and the five Maryland counties of the archdiocese.

Under canon law, Archbishop McCarrick must formally tender his retirement at age 75; however, he is expected to serve longer than five years and to be elevated to cardinal at the Vatican this spring.

Sunday, he will begin a one-month tour of his new archdiocese, celebrating 14 Masses in 13 parishes, beginning at the historic black parish of St. Augustine in Northwest.

At yesterday's Mass, the pope's letter of appointment, given "by the supreme apostolic authority," was read by the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo. It urged Archbishop McCarrick to carry out his work "with a burning charity" so others will follow Christ.

In his sermon, the archbishop noted Cardinal Hickey's "enormous legacy" and dedicated himself to carry on the same works of charity, advocacy and teaching in hopes "to do even half the things he did."

"I will serve the poor and the newcomers with the same fervor," Archbishop McCarrick said. "With gentle persuasion but with firm conviction, I will support the defense of life in our society."

"Let us never be afraid to proclaim the good news, never be afraid to sing the new song, never be afraid to seek for holiness," he said.

Citing divisions caused by the presidential election, the archbishop called for a national healing and for moving forward.

Letters of greeting were sent by President-elect George W. Bush and President Clinton, who has awarded the cleric the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award and called his new mission "challenging" and "filled with blessings."

Said Mr. Bush: "I look forward to working with you, and I hope we will have chance to visit soon."

Many participants found the installation ceremony majestic and inspiring.

"I think it's better than seeing the president," said Robert Taylor, a civil engineer who attends Holy Face parish in Great Mills, Md. "He's seems young, he's got a Ph.D. behind his name, and he looks ready to go."

Denize Jamerson came with her daughter, DeAndra, 13, who represented the school at Mount Calvary parish in Forestville.

"I think he will bring cultural diversity to our archdiocese," Mrs. Jamerson.

His sermon included passages in Spanish, French, Creole, Korean, Vietnamese, Polish, Portuguese and Italian some of which the archbishop speaks fluently.

Mrs. Jamerson also liked his homily theme of a "new song," which suggested to her that a new century, a new president and a new archbishop may add up in special ways. "As the homily said, it's time to sing a new song," she said.

Born July 7, 1930, in New York City, Archbishop McCarrick studied at Fordham University. He was dean of students and chief fund-raiser at Catholic University, where he also earned a doctorate in sociology.

Ordained in New York in 1958, he was named monsignor in 1965 when he became president of Catholic University in Puerto Rico. He was secretary to Cardinal Terence J. Cooke and was made auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977. Then he became bishop of Metuchen, N.J., in 1981 and archbishop of Newark in 1986.

As a priest, the archbishop's first assignment took him to impoverished sectors of Puerto Rico, which he said imbued him with a concern to ease suffering. For the U.S. bishops, he has headed advocacy for migration services and debt relief for poor nations.

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