Diocese of Grand Island welcomes Bishop Dendinger
Story & Photos by Lisa Schulte
The Catholic Voice
In a glorious ceremony filled with tradition and music, Bishop William J. Dendinger, former pastor of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha, was installed as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island. The episcopal ordination was attended by a capacity crowd, including people from as faraway as Florida, at St. Mary Cathedral in Grand Island Dec. 13.
Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss presided at the ceremony, which was more than two hours long and broadcast live on NTV, the ABC affiliate out of Kearney. He was joined by several bishops and abbots, including Bishop Lawrence J. McNamara, the retiring bishop of Grand Island, and Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln. Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the pope's representative in Washington D.C., was also present to read a statement from Pope John Paul II.
Nearly 150 priests from the Grand Island and Lincoln dioceses and the Archdiocese of Omaha attended the celebration.
In his homily, Archbishop Curtiss thanked Bishop Dendinger for his leadership and pastoral guidance at St. Stephen the Martyr Parish, where he served as pastor for two years. As a native of Coleridge, Bishop Dendinger brings a love and understanding of rural life to the 42,000-square-mile diocese in western Nebraska, the archbishop said.
"You have good priests to support you in ministry, with many faithful Catholics spread through the diocese. You have no diocesan debt and no lawsuits pending. You have no public scandals caused by sexual abuse," he said. "You have inherited a blessed diocese."
Archbishop Curtiss said Bishop Dendinger must make it a priority to promote vocations and to evangelize to non-practicing Catholics.
The ordination included the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination, the anointing of Bishop Dendinger's head, the handing over of the book of gospels and the presentation of the bishop's ring, miter and crosier.
Music from the 70-member choir, as well as liturgical dancers from Ravenna, added to the day's ceremony.
A reception followed in the parish hall, where Bishop Dendinger greeted family and friends and people of the Diocese of Grand Island.
"It's a great day. It's one of the most exciting things that has happened in the Dendinger family," said Don Dendinger, the bishop's older brother. "I don't know what could top the celebration of a brother being made a bishop. It's magnificent."