The Life of Brian

As we prepare to say farewell to Bishop-Elect Brian Mascord before he leaves the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, we take a look back at the life of Brian and what to expect from his ordination.

Is the ordination of a bishop a new sacrament - and what’s the difference between an ordination and installation?

An ordination is the liturgical rite that confers the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In the case of episcopal ordination, it confers the fullness of the sacrament and makes one a Bishop.

There are three degrees of Holy Orders—bishops, priests and deacons. One is first ordained a deacon, then a priest and finally a bishop. While it might appear to anyone attending these ceremonies that there are three separate sacraments, the reality is that the Sacrament of Holy Orders is only one, with three degrees. The degrees of bishop and priest are a participation in the priesthood of Christ, the Head of the Church; and that of deacon is intended to help and serve the bishops and priests.

All three degrees are received through the one Sacrament of Holy Orders.

What is happening is that, in each successive ordination ceremony, the person is receiving the one sacrament in a progressively fuller way- enabling him to carry out more functions and conferring on him more responsibilities. When a bishop is transferred from one diocese to become the bishop of another diocese, he is received by the community of the new diocese. Already a bishop, he now becomes the bishop or archbishop of that particular diocese. This installation includes his ritual reception and the public reading of his letter of appointment.

Where is Bishop-Elect Brian Mascord from?

Brian was born in Newcastle on 30 January 1959. After achieving a Diploma of Teaching at the Catholic College of Education in Castle Hill, he continued his studies at St Patrick’s College in Manly (1986–1990), where he obtained a Bachelor of Theology.

Brian was ordained a priest on 31 October 1992 in Sacred Heart Church in Hamilton by Bishop Leo E. Clarke and he was incardinated in the Diocese of Maitland (now Maitland-Newcastle). From 1993 to 1996, he worked as an assistant priest and administrator in the parishes of Taree, Hamilton and Stockton.

Brian served as parish priest to the following parishes: Cardiff (1997–2002); East Maitland and Morpeth (2002–2005); Maitland, Lochinvar and Rutherford (2005–2007).

Since 2007, he has been the Vocations Director and he has been working as Administrator for the parishes of Nelson Bay (2008–2012), as well as Mayfield and Mayfield West (2014–2016).

He has been a long-standing member of the Council of Priests (2006–present) and he is currently a member of the diocesan Clergy Life and Ministry Team (2013–present) and of the National Council for Clergy Life and Ministry (2015–present).

Since 2012, Brian has been the Vicar-General of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Will we hear from Bishop-Elect Brian Mascord before his ordination?

Yes, Bishop Peter Ingham has asked Father Brian to deliver the annual Lenten video message for 2018 as a way of introducing him to the people of the Diocese of Wollongong before his ordination. The video message will be played in parishes and released online on Sunday 11 February 2018.

What is a bishop’s coat of arms and motto and when will Bishop-Elect Brian Mascord’s be made public?

Ecclesiastical heraldry refers to the use of heraldry within the Church for dioceses and clergy. Initially used to mark documents, ecclesiastical heraldry evolved as a system for identifying people and dioceses.

Most bishops, including the Pope, have a personal coat of arms and motto. Ecclesiastical heraldry differs notably from other heraldry in the use of special insignia around the shield to indicate rank in the Church. The most prominent of these insignia is the low-crowned, wide-brimmed, ecclesiastical hat, commonly the Roman galero. The colour and ornamentation of this hat indicate rank. Cardinals are famous for the red hat and bishops adorned a green hat until the 16th century when it was changed to its current colour “amaranth red” – which resembles fuchsia.

Unless a new bishop has a family coat of arms, he typically adopts - within his shield - symbols that indicate his interests or past service. The display of a cross behind the shield is restricted to bishops as a mark of their dignity. A motto appears below the shield as a statement of belief.

Brian is currently designing his coat of arms with the assistance of heraldic expert, Mr Richard d’Apice AM.

The coat of arms will be made public during the ordination ceremony after Brian is ordained.

What is the meaning behind the dove-stained glass window being used to promote the ordination of Bishop-Elect Brian Mascord?

Brian’s ordination will take place on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter the Apostle which takes place each year on 22 February.

The image being used to promote the ordination is Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s “Dove of the Holy Spirit”, which is an alabaster-stained glass window that sits above the Chair of St Peter in St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican.

The Chair of St Peter is the central work of art in the apse of St Peter’s Basilica, designed by Bernini and finished in 1666. This chair is made of bronze and encases the original Chair of St Peter, which is made of wood and ivory. The throne takes up the whole space in the front of the basilica and is centred around the stained glass window. At the centre of this window is a white dove which symbolises the Holy Spirit, hence the title “Dove of the Holy Spirit”.

The time period in which it was constructed, its oval shape, and the manipulation of light identify the window as Baroque. The dove, from wing tip to wing tip, is six feet wide - which puts into perspective the colossal size of the whole sculpture. The light rays shift from brighter to darker as they move away from the dove, thus illustrating God the Holy Spirit as the source of light. The brightness alternates between light and dark with each division between the amber light rays around the dove, thereby accentuating each individual beam of light without bringing too much attention to any single one. The light rays are further accentuated by their continuation within the bronze sculpture; around the window is a plethora of angels on clouds, but beyond the angles, the light rays of the window continue in bronze form.

From this we can tell that Bernini designed the sculpture and the window as a single, unified work. Interestingly, this stained glass window is not actually made of glass, but rather alabaster, a naturally translucent stone. The exact time the window was completed is uncertain, though most sources place it around 1660.

Why is the ordination of Bishop-Elect Brian Mascord at the WIN Entertainment Centre and what can attendees expect to see?

As this is the first ordination of a bishop in Wollongong for some 22 years and with  up to 4,500 people expected to attend, the ordination cannot be held at at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in Wollongong as it seats only 550 people.

Installations (such as Bishop Peter Ingham’s) and other major diocesan masses have been successfully held in the WIN Entertainment Centre in the past.

Wollongong Diocese believe that if they can’t take the people to the Cathedral, it will take the Cathedral to the people. Therefore, the backdrop for the ordination will be a recreation of the Cathedral stained-glass windows and icons.

What are the items received by a bishop at his episcopal ordination?

The ring: In the ordination ceremony, the new bishop is given a ring, which symbolises his spiritual marriage to the Church and his duty to be faithful, in imitation of Christ, the bridegroom of the Church. The ring, as an official part of the bishop’s insignia, was first mentioned early in the seventh century and it came to be of general use in the ninth and 10th centuries. The prayer said in conferring the ring reads: “Receive this ring, the seal of fidelity: adorned with undefiled faith, preserve unblemished the bride of God, the holy Church.” The ring is worn on the fourth finger of the right hand.

The mitre: The bishop is given the mitre, a large pointed head covering, with two short lappets or flaps hanging down over the back. Its name comes from a Greek word meaning turban. It is worn only in more solemn ceremonies like the Mass, processions, and is removed for the prayers. The prayer said on conferring the mitre makes reference to the crown, “Receive the mitre, and may the splendour of holiness shine forth in you, so that when the chief shepherd appears you may deserve to receive from him an unfading crown of glory.”

The crosier: After the mitre, the new bishop is given the crosier, or shepherd’s crook, which symbolises his duty to be diligent in watching over the flock entrusted to him. The prayer says: “Receive the crosier, the sign of your pastoral office: and keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishop to govern the Church of God.” The crosier is first mentioned as part of the bishop’s insignia in the seventh century.

The pectoral cross: The name “pectoral” comes from the Latin word for chest since the cross is worn on a chain hanging down over the bishop’s chest. The cross of Christ was the instrument of our redemption and it reminds the bishop of his duty to be generous in sacrificing himself for the flock entrusted to his care.

The skull cap or the zucchetto: This small round cap, worn towards the back of the head, dates to the 13th century and developed to cover the tonsure, the part of the back of the head that was shaved when a man entered the clerical state. It varies in colour according to the rank of the bishop, with the Pope wearing white, cardinals wearing red and bishops wearing fuchsia. Priests may also wear the skull cap and theirs is black. It can be used at any time but is removed in mass during the Eucharistic Prayer.

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