- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2001

Newly installed Archbishop of Washington Theodore E. McCarrick admitted to parishioners at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Northwest he felt like a "newborn baby" while celebrating his first Mass there yesterday as archbishop.

"I'm hopeful that my first homily here will make sense to someone," the archbishop jokingly told the hundreds who filled the church pews for morning Mass.

Yesterday's Mass was the second Archbishop McCarrick celebrated since taking charge of the Archdiocese of Washington on Thursday.

On Saturday, the archbishop celebrated his first Mass at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Northwest, showing congregants that he is a simple man who doesn't take himself too seriously.

When Archbishop McCarrick, 70, received a baseball cap and a T-shirt as a gift from a parishioner, he took off his miter and put on the cap, according to church officials.

The result: The new archbishop got a standing ovation.

"He just seems to be more in tune with people," said congregant Louis Coleman of Northwest. "He's the type of man you can relate to and feel comfortable with. He's so simple."

Archbishop McCarrick also has a sense of humor.

As the archbishop got ready to pass out what looked like gold coins, in honor of the Feast of the Epiphany yesterday, he warned congregants not to get too excited. "Before you run up madly to the front, there's only candy inside," he said as laughter broke out among the parishioners.

Pope John Paul II selected Archbishop McCarrick Nov. 21, shortly after Cardinal James A. Hickey, who led the archdiocese for the past 20 years, retired at the age of 80. Archbishop McCarrick formally succeeded Cardinal Hickey at a prayer service Wednesday night.

Archbishop McCarrick was ordained in New York in 1958 and had served as archbishop of Newark, N.J., since 1986.

In his first sermon at St. Matthew's, also known as the Bishop's Church and the primary church of the archdiocese, Archbishop McCarrick urged parishioners to seek God's presence in life by praying and reading Scripture.

"Let us open our eyes," he told his audience. "The whole world and you and I are hungry for God. Two thousand years ago, He was born. And He has not left us. He's still here."

The archbishop suggested parishioners spend a few minutes each day to try to understand the true meaning of the Scriptures. "Take five minutes a day to understand the wonderful history of salvation God gave to us," he said. "You and I have to somehow find Jesus, find his presence and be like the wise men who found him when he was born."

Before moving to Washington last month, Archbishop McCarrick pledged to get to know the area's people and the priests so he could better serve their needs.

He decided to embark on a monthlong tour of his new archdiocese, which includes parishes in the District plus Montgomery, Prince George's, Calvert, St. Mary's and Charles counties in Maryland.

Archbishop McCarrick is expected to celebrate 14 Masses in 13 parishes by the end of the month.


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