Archbishop Byrnes Tells Guam "I Belong to You"

By Krystal Paco
November 30, 2016

History has been made. Hundreds of the island's faithful gathered for a morning prayer service to welcome and celebrate newly-appointed Archbishop Michael Byrnes. While he's scheduled to make his permanent move to Guam in January, the new leader of the island's Catholic faithful is visiting for the next few weeks to get acquainted with his new island home.

The arrival of Guam's new archbishop appears to already be closing the gap that has divided the local Catholic church for years. On Wednesday morning, just minutes before a Prayer for the Beginning of the Episcopal Ministry of Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes service, dozens of members of the Neocatechumenal Way gathered in song to welcome him.

And the celebrations continued inside. Pews filled with Catholics eager to meet their new shepherd.

Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Archbishop Byrnes was appointed to the Archdiocese of Agana on October 31. He was given full authority over the pastoral life of the local church, relieving Archbishop Anthony Apuron. Acting as Guam's interim archbishop since June, apostolic administrator Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai provided opening remarks for today's prayer service.

"Pope Francis is confident that Archbishop Michael will promote the healing of the archdiocese," he said, "and the building of bridges for a deeper ecclesial union that everyone desires."

Speaking on behalf of the Holy Father was Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Martin Krebs. He announced, "When the Pope asked you to accept your appointment as coadjutor archbishop of Agana, your answer was, Yes, I'll go."

Putting pen to paper on the altar, Archbishop Byrnes signed an Oath of Fidelity with Archbishop Krebs and Archbishop Hon also co-signing as witnesses to his promise. "I belong to you. Today, I'm one of yours," said Byrnes, a gesture that was met with immediate and grateful applause from the large gathering.

Among the faithful present today were Daphne Castillo and Adrian Cruz. Castillo said, "It's a beautiful event and history is being made today," with Cruz adding, "He's a very smart man. He spoke off the cuff, and I think this is an opportunity for the people of Guam to heal and a new chapter obviously has been opened. And I'm glad he's here."

And here on Guam for the historic celebration for Archbishop Byrnes are several visiting bishops - along with Archbishop Krebs are Bishop Ryan Jimenez, who Pope Francis appointed Bishop of Chalan Kanoa, CNMI last June; Bishop Jose Arturo Cepeda Escobedo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit and Bishop Andrew Harmon Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

This evening starting at 6pm, Archbishop Byrnes will be presiding over his first mass at the Dulce Nombre De Maria Cathedral-Basilica as a start of the Novena Masses honoring Santa Marian Kamalen. You can watch the mass live on KUAM-TV11 or stream the service live on our YouTube channel.








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