Serenaded by a choir and surrounded by colorful banners representing the nationalities and counties of his new flock, Edward Michael Egan on Sunday became archbishop of the New York Archdiocese--considered to be the most prominent Catholic post in America.
"I am immensely privileged to join you in all of this," Egan said in his first homily as archbishop at St. Patrick's Cathedral. He is now the spiritual leader of 2.4 million people.
Three thousand worshipers gathered beneath the cathedral's immense stone arches and high stained-glass windows to witness the majestic ceremony.
It began with a procession of 11 tall banners, one for each of the 10 counties in Egan's new jurisdiction, plus one embroidered with flags representing the native lands of New York's Catholics. Prayers were later said in eight languages, ranging from Korean to Arabic to Ukrainian, and Egan himself gave a brief homily in Spanish.
Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio in the United States, read a letter from Pope John Paul II entrusting the archdiocese to Egan. The letter noted the "sad passing of our venerable brother, John Joseph O'Connor," who died of cancer 11 days before Egan was appointed May 11.
O'Connor had led the archdiocese for 16 years. Egan, 68, led the diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., for 12 years before succeeding O'Connor, but he also served for three years in New York under O'Connor in the 1980s.
An installation Mass scheduled for today will feature a more elaborate ceremony with a procession of 700 priests and an audience that will include eight cardinals, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and other dignitaries.