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December 16, 2009
Former Miami priest consecrated bishop of Pueblo
By Rossana Goñi
With palpable joy, the faithful of the Diocese of Pueblo welcomed Father Fernando Isern as their new shepherd last week. Born in Havana, Father Isern comes from the Archdiocese of Miami.
He was consecrated the fourth bishop of the diocese during a Mass celebrated in the Massari Arena at Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus on Dec. 10.
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., was the principal consecrator. Co-consecrating prelates were Miami Archbishop John C. Favalora, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi and newly retired Pueblo Bishop Arthur N. Tafoya. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney was also in attendance.
At the beginning of Mass, the pope’s delegate Archbishop Sambi noted that what is primarily expected from a bishop is fidelity.
“We are confident you will serve in fidelity,” he said. “May He who came to preach the good news to the poor, guide you in every step.”
Archbishop Chaput delivered the homily. He said that despite the frigid December weather, the second week of Advent is a wonderful time to be ordained a prelate as many saints’ feast days take place then, including St. Ambrose, Pope St. Damasus, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego.
“I know that Bishop Isern already treasures these last two feasts in a special way,” he said, “trusting in Mary who is always our mother, and seeking to be holy and simple in his service to the Gospel, as Juan Diego was.”
Talking about St. Augustine, Archbishop Chaput described him as one of the great bishops of the history of Christianity.
“His first task was to love God as a son,” he said, “and to love the people of God in his care as a father, with a father’s heart.”
Turning his attention to Bishop-elect Isern, Archbishop Chaput advised, “Have confidence in the God who calls you to this altar, because he will give you the serenity and strength to do his will.”
After the homily, Bishop-elect Isern was anointed with chrism and blessed with the sacred Scriptures. He then received the episcopal ring, miter and crosier. When he sat for the first time in the bishop’s chair, he was welcomed by his new flock with warm applause.
At the end of the Mass, the new bishop of Pueblo, whose motto is “Caritas Christi urget nos” (“The love of Christ compels us”), expressed gratitude to all the prelates present, to his family—especially his mother who attended the ceremony—and to all the clergy and faithful gathered in Massari Arena.
“This is a great day, a great moment, not for this unworthy servant but for the Church” he said, adding that the faithful in southern Colorado, are receiving “one who comes with a grateful heart, with great hope and promise for this Church of Pueblo.”