Daniel Mueggenborg ordained seventh auxiliary bishop of Seattle

Deacons Jeffrey Moore and Frank DiGirolamo hold the Book of the Gospels over the head of Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg as Archbishop J. Peter Sartain says the prayer of consecration at the May 31 ordination Mass at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Photo: Stephen Brashear Deacons Jeffrey Moore and Frank DiGirolamo hold the Book of the Gospels over the head of Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg as Archbishop J. Peter Sartain says the prayer of consecration at the May 31 ordination Mass at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Photo: Stephen Brashear

SEATTLE – Seated for the first time bearing his new miter and pastoral staff, Bishop Daniel Henry Mueggenborg radiated joy as the standing-room-only crowd at St. James Cathedral gave a standing ovation for the Archdiocese of Seattle’s seventh auxiliary bishop, ordained during a 2 p.m. Mass on Wednesday, May 31.

As the Mass began, more than an hour before that moment, morning clouds had given way to a clear blue sky, and sunshine poured through the cathedral’s “eye of God” skylight, illuminating the massive lengths of red fabric looping down from the ceiling like fire from the Holy Spirit.

“Welcome to Seattle on a beautiful, glorious, typical day,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain quipped after the grand entrance procession, which included representatives of several of the archdiocese’s cultural communities carrying images of Jesus and Mary.

The assembly included well over a dozen visiting bishops, scores of priests and many of Bishop-designate Mueggenborg’s family members and friends from the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which he served as a priest for nearly 28 years before his new appointment was announced April 6.

‘Outpouring of the grace of the Holy Spirit’

Archbishop Sartain noted the historical significance of the date: the 167th anniversary of the establishment of the archdiocese (originally the Diocese of Nesqually); the 61st anniversary of the episcopal ordination of Seattle’s first auxiliary bishop, Thomas Gill; and the sixth anniversary of the installation of a previous Seattle auxiliary, Joseph Tyson, as bishop of Yakima.

After making the sign of the cross, the archbishop said, “We gather, sisters and brothers, as the church of Christ in this place today to see the great outpouring of the grace of the Holy Spirit on our brother Daniel, who God graces with a call to ordination to the episcopacy and to the service of this archdiocese.”

Bishop Mueggenborg ordination
The Laying on of Hands during the ordination Mass. Photo: Stephen Brashear

After the Mass readings, Vicar for Clergy Father Gary Zender and Judicial Vicar Father Tony Bawyn formally presented Bishop-designate Mueggenborg (pronounced MUG-en-berg) for ordination. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to the United States, then read an apostolic letter from Pope Francis declaring his appointment.

“In our judgment,” the nuncio told the bishop-designate, translating the Latin of the pope’s letter, “you, beloved son, endowed as you are with proven qualities as well as skill in ecclesial matters and in biblical theology, are suitable for undertaking this office.”

Following the reading of the letter, Bishop-designate Mueggenborg walked the aisles of the cathedral holding up the official parchment for all to see, pausing briefly before Archbishop Sartain (who gave him a thumbs up) and the archdiocesan chancellor, Mary Santi.

‘May your soul proclaim the greatness of the Lord’

Archbishop Sartain then delivered the homily. Reflecting on the Gospel reading for the feast of the Visitation, he suggested a parallel between Mary, who accepted the “astounding news” told to her by an angel “with her typical heartfelt humility, her generosity and her wonder,” and Bishop-designate Mueggenborg, whose calling from God has unfolded “in a way that astounds” him.

Archbishop Sartain gave thanks to God for the bishop-designate’s late parents and their seven children. “I didn’t have the honor of knowing Paul and Dolores, but from what I am told, they were a couple of extraordinary virtue, whose steadfastness in the Lord and to each other gave birth to a family of love, faith, talent, strength and generosity. It was in the depth of that family, in the womb of Dolores, that God issued a call to his son and theirs, Daniel.”

The archbishop expounded on the nature of the office of bishop, handed on from generation to generation since the time of the Twelve Apostles.

“The Lord Jesus, the eternal high priest, is present among us through the bishop and his priests,” he said. “Through the ministry of bishop, Christ himself never fails to proclaim his Gospel and to administer the sacraments to those who believe. And through the bishop’s duty that he exercises as a father, Christ himself adds new members to his church. And through the bishop’s wisdom and prudence, Christ himself leads us in earthly pilgrimage toward eternal joy.”

Addressing Bishop-designate Mueggenborg as “a man of prayer,” the archbishop echoed Mary’s Magnificat from the Gospel reading: “May your soul proclaim the greatness of the Lord, may you teach us how to do the same, and may you teach us how to pray.”

And he exhorted him: “As one chosen by the Father to rule over his family, be mindful always of the Good Shepherd, who bears the smell of the sheep, who knows his sheep and they know him, just as the Father knows him and he knows the Father, and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for the sheep.”

apostolic letterBishop Mueggenborg holds up Pope Francis' apostolic letter testifying to his worthiness. Photo: Stephen Brashear

‘Merciful like the Father’

Following the homily, Bishop-designate Mueggenborg declared his resolve to faithfully fulfill the office of bishop. Then he prostrated himself on the floor as the assembly invoked the prayers of the saints in preparation for the heart of the ordination rite, the laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration.

As the bishop-designate knelt before the altar, Archbishop Sartain, followed by Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa, Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo and the visiting bishops, placed their hands on his head.

Gathered around the altar, the bishops then prayed, in part: “Pour out now upon this chosen one that power which is from you, the governing Spirit, whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit whom he bestowed upon the holy apostles, who established the church in each place as your sanctuary for the glory and unceasing praise of your name.”

The choir and congregation then sang a musical setting of Bishop Mueggenborg’s episcopal motto, Misericordes sicut Pater (“Merciful like the Father”), as the new bishop received the “insignia” of his episcopal office.

First, Archbishop Sartain anointed his head with oil, emptying an entire cruet of chrism that ran down Bishop Mueggenborg’s hair and face.

The new bishop then received the Book of the Gospels, a reminder of his duty to preach the word of God; a ring (presented by his nephew Blake Hite), a seal of his fidelity to “the bride of God, the holy church”; a miter (presented by his sister Catherine McLaughlin), symbolizing his commitment to pursue holiness; and a crosier (presented by his nephew Mark McLaughlin), a sign of his responsibility as a shepherd.

After receiving a standing ovation from the congregation and the “fraternal kiss of peace” from the bishops present, Bishop Mueggenborg took his seat to the right of Archbishop Sartain, who briefly clasped the new bishop’s hand. Bishop Mueggenborg wiped his eyes (it was not immediately clear whether this was due to emotion or residual olive oil).

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Bishop Elizondo looked over multiple times at his new brother bishop and beamed.

‘Please pray for me … and I will pray for you’

After Communion, Bishop Mueggenborg processed through the cathedral offering his first blessing as a bishop. As he made the sign of the cross in the air, several people in the pews held up their phones to snap photos.

The new bishop then mounted the ambo to address the assembly.

“There are so many people whom I would like to acknowledge and thank on this day, if I listed everyone by name you would all be late for dinner,” he said.

“In hindsight, I can see rather clearly how God’s providence has been at work preparing me for this moment, leading me to this moment,” he continued.

Since being informed of his appointment on March 26, he had received from God the graces necessary “to confront the many fears and uncertainties that were creeping into my heart and soul,” he said.

“The words of the risen Christ ‘Be not afraid’ and ‘Peace be with you’ have never had as much meaning as they have during these past few weeks.”

Bishop Mueggenborg entrusted his episcopal ministry “to the Blessed Mother to protect and guide so that it may always be carried out in communion with her Son.”

“Please pray for me, that I may be an effective and faithful minister of … hope,” he said in closing, “and I will pray for you, that you may always know God’s presence, God’s love and God’s mercy in your lives.”

As the new bishop processed out at the end of the nearly three-hour ordination Mass, the bells of St. James Cathedral rang out in rejoicing.

group photo of bishopsJoining Archbishop Sartain, Bishop Elizondo and Bishop Mueggenborg for a group photo after Mass were Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa and diocesan bishops. Photo: Stephen Brashear


Watch live stream videos from the ordination.

Gallery: Moments from a Bishop's Ordination

Kevin Birnbaum

Kevin Birnbaum is the editor/associate publisher of Northwest Catholic and a member of Seattle’s Blessed Sacrament Parish. Contact him at [email protected].

Kevin Birnbaum es el editor de la revista Noroeste Católico/Northwest Catholic y miembro de la Parroquia del Sagrado Sacramento en Seattle. Pueden contactarle en: [email protected].