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Bishop Rice is ordained

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 14, 2011 - Bishop Edward Matthew Rice spoke informally from the sanctuary of the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, near the conclusion of rites in which he was ordained a Catholic bishop Thursday afternoon.

Last week at a religious retreat, he prepared for his new post by reading the late Pope John Paul II's book on the role of a bishop "Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way." One line startled Rice "that a bishop has the duty to serve not only through his words and through the liturgy but also through offering up his sufferings."

"I must be honest when I came to the quote," Rice told worshipers packed into the cathedral. "I paused then I panicked."

Laughter rippled through the cathedral.

"It was not what I wanted to read; dying to self, suffering, taking up the Cross," he said. "Then, very simply, very subtly in almost in a whisper, a conviction came over me that God will not abandon me." He said he knew not to be afraid.

Rice has been the archdiocesan director for priestly and religious vocations and will continue that work as well as his new bishop's duties assisting St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson in leading the St. Louis Archdiocese.

In the rites of ordination, Rice prostrated himself in prayer, his face to the floor before the high altar. He also submitted to an oral examination of his faith by Carlson. A dozen bishops from six states laid hands on Rice, blessing him in the most ancient episcopal ordination rite. Nearly all of participating bishops formerly served as St. Louis priests or bishops. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, now a Vatican judicial official, also laid on hands.

Despite the frigid weather and the city's still snow-packed, side streets, the cathedral was packed with more than 1,700 worshipers - more than 350 stood through the Mass. Rice, a St. Louis native, has eight siblings and the first 100 seats on the right side of the main aisle were reserved for his family.

Trumpets, trombone, French horn, tuba, timpani, a hand bell choir and the Archdiocesan adult and children choirs added to the prayerful celebration.

Patricia Rice is a freelance journalist whose areas of coverage includes religion. She is not related to Bishop Rice. To reach her, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

Patricia Rice special to the Beacon

Patricia Rice is a freelance writer based in St. Louis who has covered religion for many years. She also writes about cultural issues, including opera.

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