- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

Catholic Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl emphasized the power of faith yesterday during his first homily and Mass as archbishop of the Washington Diocese.

The archbishop told of a boy named “Little Dominick” whom he met early in his religious career. Dominick said he believed in Jesus through the teachings of the Catholic Church, even though nobody had seen Him in the past 2,000 years, Archbishop Wuerl said.

“I’ll always remember it,” the archbishop told about 900 worshippers who assembled at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Rhode Island Avenue Northwest. “I find it amazing … that extraordinary message. … It requires a great act of faith to accept this.”

Retiring Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick began the Mass by welcoming the rain that had fallen on the region for most of the weekend.

“Thank you very much that the heavens opened,” he said before introducing the new archbishop.

The two men then shook hands and embraced before Archbishop Wuerl removed the miter from his head and took a seat on the cathedra, the bishop’s chair that represents teaching authority.

Among those in attendance were Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, who spoke briefly to the archbishop outside the cathedral after the service.

Auxiliary bishops assisted Archbishop Wuerl with the Communion.

Ushers took up two collections: one for the church and the other for those around the world who are poor and suffering from war, oppression and natural disasters.

Worshippers leaving after the hourlong service were given pocket-sized, colored photographs of Archbishop Wuerl. Outside, they shook hands with the archbishop as the second service began. Two groups of Missionaries of Charity, Order of Mother Teresa, dressed in white and blue saris, also welcomed the new leader of the diocese and shook and kissed his hand.

“This is very exciting,” said Mr. Steele, who called the transition from Cardinal McCarrick to Archbishop Wuerl an “unbroken leadership.”

“I think he is going to be a good leader,” Mr. Steele said of Archbishop Wuerl.

Cardinal McCarrick and Archbishop Wuerl were scheduled today to join other Catholic leaders on a trip to Rome, where they will celebrate special Masses. Archbishop Wuerl will receive palliums from Pope Benedict XVI. Palliums are wool strips from specially blessed lambs that archbishops wear over their shoulders as signs of their pastoral authority.

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