“It’s like planning a wedding in six weeks with 2,000 guests”

That’s how one person involved described the process of putting together the installation of the new archbishop of Denver.


Among the summer’s most pressing questions: how long does it take to move a processional of 400 priests and deacons, up to 50 bishops and as many as four cardinals the length of two city blocks?

Does the liturgy provide for the papal nuncio to move left to right, or right to left?
Perhaps most haunting of all—exactly how many worshipers do fit in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, versus how many will actually turn up?

Those are just tiny morsels among a myriad of questions facing planners of the installation of Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila on July 18. By that time, thousands of details will have been knit together to create a historic and unforgettable two days of welcome and prayers for the fifth archbishop of Denver.

On July 17, the eve of the installation, the public is invited to join the new archbishop in a Solemn Vespers service at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Northglenn.

Then, on July 18, comes the installation itself.

The Mass alone has sparked the sending of 1,700 invitations and will be proceeded by a processional of hundreds of clergy, including several cardinals.

“It’s like planning a wedding in six weeks with 2,000 guests,” said Tess Stone, events coordinator for the Archdiocese of Denver.

In this case, the “bridal party” has an especially complex guest list.

“The idea of the installation is not just to welcome the new archbishop to his new home and introduce him to the people of the Church in northern Colorado—it’s also to make him aware of the people he will have a relationship with, Catholics and non-Catholics alike,” said Msgr. Thomas Fryar, moderator of the curia and head of the 14-member installation committee.

In short, the new archbishop not only becomes leader of the Church of northern Colorado, but he also plays an influential role as he interacts with the public and civic leaders, and as he takes the mission of the Church into the public square. As Msgr. Fryar puts it, “His responsibility does not stop at the doors of the Catholic Church.”

Hence, a hefty invitation list of 1,700 people. The list includes the governor of Colorado, the mayor of Denver and a line of dignitaries. Then there are the religious leaders from a number of faiths and ecumenical backgrounds, and the representatives from the many new Catholic groups and spiritual movements, which have grown in number from the days of then-archbishop, now Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, through the tenure of Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

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