New auxiliary ordained for Military Archdiocese

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WASHINGTON - Not every bishop gets, at his episcopal ordination, a color guard from both the Knights of Columbus and the U.S. military. Nor do they get both "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "The Navy Hymn" sung at the ordination Mass.

But when you are newly ordained for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, as Bishop Robert J. Coyle was April 25, you get that and a lot more - like being told by his new boss, Archbishop Timothy M. Broglio, that he'll be working in "a global archdiocese."

Bishop Coyle's appointment was announced Feb. 11, the same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his intent to retire from the papacy. In Bishop Coyle's remarks at the end of the two-hour, 45-minute ordination Mass, he said that alone would be enough to make it a memorable occasion.

The new bishop spoke of his great affection for both Pope Benedict and his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II. He also referred of one of Archbishop Broglio's predecessors, the late Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York, as one of his heroes.

In their respective military chaplaincies, both had served on Okinawa. "He had served in the 3rd Marines as well," Bishop Coyle said, adding that he once got a letter from the late cardinal, recommending that the priest "stay close to him (Jesus). He will never fail."

Bishop Coyle had spent 10 years as a chaplain in the Navy and the Naval Reserves. That service is reflected on his episcopal crest, which pictures a ship on the waters in full sail, with the letter "M" on the sail - a nod to the "M" Blessed John Paul used on his papal coat of arms to signify Mary.

His episcopal motto is "Lord bid me come to you," which has its own nautical roots. It is taken from Matthew 14, when Peter says to Jesus, "Lord, bid me come to you in the water," and Jesus answers, "Come." Peter scrambles out of the boat and starts walking on the water, but begins to sink and calls for Jesus to save him, which Jesus does. After Peter is saved, Jesus says to him, "Ye of little faith. Why did you doubt?" Peter's answer: "Because I took my eyes off the Lord."

"I venture on to new waters, and a new ministry," Bishop Coyle said. Archbishop Broglio said Bishop Coyle would be responsible for a "vicariate" consisting of 90 military installations in the eastern half of the United States.

"You will need the vigor of youth," he said to his new, 48-year-old, auxiliary in his homily, "and the fire of the Spirit to carry out this arduous task."

Archbishop Broglio noted that the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the ordination site, had many mosaics on its walls and floors, likening it to mosaic of the military archdiocese, which ministers to five military branches, the Veterans Administration hospitals, and Foreign Service personnel working outside the United States.

He also recalled the words of the Mass' Gospel passage from St. Mark - whose feast was also April 25 - to "go out into the world" to spread the Good News.

"The Apostles responded to his mandate," Archbishop Broglio said. "The feast of St. Mark reminds us of the importance of evangelization."

The archbishop took note of the challenges to evangelize in the military archdiocese, with "a shortage of priests, a growing flock and daunting distances." He thanked Bishop Coyle "for your willingness to give up the familiar and embrace the nomadic."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970