In a solemn, lengthy ceremony full of pageantry and peppered with bursts of enthusiastic applause, the Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone was installed as the 13th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston on Wednesday at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Before the ceremony began, a group of Hispanic Catholics assembled on the Cathedral steps to sing and welcome the new bishop to South Carolina. Inside, the pews were full of diocese officials, members of the Knights of Columbus, seminary students, monks and nuns and Boy Scout troops.
Guglielmone has been involved in Scouting since 1974, serving in various capacities, including the Vatican-appointed National and World Chaplain.
Presiding over the installation Mass was Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, N.Y. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., concelebrated the Mass. Co-consecrators were the Most Rev. William F. Murphy, bishop of Rockville Center, and the Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, bishop of Birmingham, Ala.
Guglielmone, who previously served as rector of St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, N.Y., succeeds Baker, who was assigned to the Birmingham diocese in August 2007.
Since October 2007, the Rev. Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin has served as diocese administrator. It is not unusual for a year or more to go by before a new Vatican-appointed bishop replaces an outgoing one, according to diocese spokesman Steve Gajdosik.
When Egan acknowledged Laughlin's interim leadership, the congregation applauded vigorously. As Egan prepared to consecrate Guglielmone, he paid tribute to the Charleston diocese, which oversees Catholics statewide.
"You are the 13th bishop of one of the most historic and esteemed dioceses in the nation," Egan said, pointing out that he knew six of Guglielmone's 12 predecessors personally. "So if you need any help about the history of this diocese, just phone me in New York."
Egan said the new bishop was to "guide and guard" his flock "in a time of considerable turmoil in this nation of ours."
Guglielmone was anointed with oil, then presented with the Gospel; a ring signifying his marriage to the church; a miter, or bishop's headpiece, signifying the leader's resolve to pursue the crown of holiness; and a crosier, or staff, symbolizing his duty to guide his flock of believers.
Once consecrated, Guglielmone assumed his place in the cathedra, or bishop's chair, and showed emotion, wiping his brow and bowing his head.
Ben Novotny, a 20-year-old student at College Seminary in South Orange, N.J., who was born and raised in Greenville, said he feels a certain kinship with the new bishop.
"I can understand where he came from now that I've spent a year in New Jersey," Novotny said.
Michael Duffy, 24, a second-year seminary student in New York, was a parishioner at St. Frances de Chantal in Wantagh, where Guglielmone served as a priest.
"He is like a father to me," Duffy said, "the reason I'm in seminary."
Duffy said his mentor, a priest's priest and generous leader, will be sorely missed in New York.
"My mother's still a little upset at the Holy Father for taking him away," he said.