Bishop Steven J.Lopes 40 was ordained as the first bishop for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a canonical structure equivalent to a diocese for Catholics who were nurtured in the Anglican tradition.
The American ordinariate was set up by Pope Benedict XVI on Jan 1, 2012 for Anglicans who wanted to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining some of their Anglican patrimony.
Bishop Lopes assumed his new post, declaring “Magna Opera Domini – Great are the works of the Lord."
The appointment of Bishop Lopes was announced by the Vatican Nov. 24. He succeeds Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, 63, who has headed the ordinariate since its establishment by Pope Benedict XVI Jan. 1, 2012.
“We thank God for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his spirit-prompted vision of unity and faith in a diversity of expression which informs the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus," Bishop Lopes said. “We thank God for our Holy Father Pope Francis for putting his vision into concrete expression."
Newly ordained Bishop Lopez, a native of Fremont, California, was born on April 22, 1975 as the only child of José de Oliveira Lopes and Barbara Jane Lopes. He was ordained a priest on June 23, 2001, for the Archdiocese of San Francisco by Cardinal William Levada. He served in two parishes in California as an associate pastor; St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, San Francisco, and St. Anselm Catholic Church in Ross, California.
Upon his appointment, he has become the youngest Catholic bishop in the United States. He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was instrumental in setting up the ordinariates and in approving a new missal, Divine Worship: The Missal, for them as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the doctrinal congregation’s prefect, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington were con-celebrators.
Cardinal William Levada, who ordained a Bishop Lopez a priest said the homily for the Mass. He also is former Archbishop of San Francisco.
“Today is Candlemas day, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord," Cardinal Levada said. “Today is the blessed day when Jesus was presented in the temple by Mary and Joseph. Outwardly he was fulfilling the law, but in reality he was coming to meet his believing people. Among the believing people he met in the Jerusalem temple, the names of Simeon and Anna have sounded down the ages. But the liturgy is not simply about a past event."
“On Candlemas Day in this year of grace 2016, Jesus has come again to meet his believing people in word and sacrament," he continued. “The people of faith Jesus has come to meet today is us, you and me – the Church. And the name that will go forward from this day in this encounter with Christ is that of Steven Joseph Lopes."
At least 50 priests and deacons serve 42 parishes spread across the United States and Canada that belong to the Ordinariate, a press release said. Most of the priests who head these parishes are married, in line with the Anglican Church’s married priesthood.