This coming Tuesday we have an ordination in St. Louis, Msgr. Mark Rivituso will be ordained an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The proper way to refer to him right now is actually Bishop-elect Rivituso. As an auxiliary bishop he will assist Archbishop Carlson in the governance of the archdiocese. All dioceses do not have auxiliary bishops, but if the diocese is large enough that the bishop considers it is needed, he writes to the Apostolic See to request that an auxiliary bishop be named for the diocese. Historically we have had auxiliary bishops assisting in St. Louis. Bishop Robert Hermann was ordained an auxiliary bishop for St. Louis in 2002 and is still serving us here in his retirement. Bishop Edward Rice had served our archdiocese as an auxiliary bishop until he was named bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese last year.
The most common place where many will see and be served by an auxiliary bishop is at Confirmations. With over 180 parishes in our archdiocese it can be difficult for the archbishop to make it to every parish for confirmations each year. Even when many parishes, like ours, go to the cathedral for Confirmations and celebrate the sacrament with a few other parishes (we are going there for Confirmation on May 13) there are still many services and normally two bishops will be confirming at the one service since there will often be well over 100 being confirmed.
An auxiliary bishop can also ordain deacons and priests. As we have various religious orders in our archdiocese it is not only the priests that are being ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Louis that are ordained here, but there can be Jesuits, Vincentians, Dominicans …. Needless to say, even with an auxiliary or two the archbishop can still have a very full schedule. Add on all of the meetings and decisions that need to be made to run the archdiocese, and then the meetings and events he is required to participate in coordinating with other dioceses throughout the U.S., and some even for the universal Church, and of course whatever time is needed in preparation for each meeting or event, and you can see why we need an auxiliary bishop.
Another fact about auxiliary bishops is that while they serve a certain diocese, they are also named to a titular see. A titular see is an area that at one time was a diocese but no longer serves as one, often due to reorganization of local diocses. I know of one bishop who’s titular see is now a desert or more locally did you realize that Alton, IL used to be a diocese. Bishop-elect Rivituso’s titular see is Turuzi. When you search for it Wikipedia identifies it as an ancient city and show it located in Africa somewhere along the Mediterranean Sea but they don’t know exactly where.
So say a prayer for Bishop-elect Rivituso this week and while it might seem sometimes that things are more complicated then they need to be, realize life can be complicated and appreciate all of the people that you probably don’t even know that are doing what they can to help us to stay faithful to Christ’s teachings and to serve God and you.