Challenges Loom for New Bishop

By Peter Smith
August 26, 2019

The new spiritual leader of West Virginia’s Roman Catholics is big on “hope.” He mentioned it several times during his homily last week when he was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

So, given the cleanup task ahead of him, Bishop Mark Brennan can only hope for more moments like what he experienced after that service.

He had just emerged from the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling behind a train of dozens of priests and bishops in their festive clerical garb, the sounds of organ and brass still reverberating within. He went up to an elevated pulpit in an exterior turret to bless the crowds clustered below, dressed in their Sunday best even though it was a Thursday afternoon.

“Bishop, we’re over here!” shouted Yvette Smith, one of a cluster of women across the street. They were dressed in T-shirts and jeans or shorts in the humid afternoon. They live in apartments across the street or around the corner, and they often enjoy watching people coming and going from the beautiful weddings and other ceremonies that contrast with the otherwise bleak neighborhood.

This time, they weren’t just spectators.

Bishop Brennan accepted their invitation, walking over, talking with the women and offering blessings.

“Nobody’s ever taken the time to come over here,” Ms. Smith said, adding that the visit lifted her spirits on a discouraging day. She plans to attend Mass at the cathedral in the future.








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