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Invitation-only event for episcopal ordination due to space limitations, vigil open to public

By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
December 22, 2005

With each passing day, plans for the episcopal ordination of The Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless as the seventh Bishop of Sioux City take shape.

"Plans are progressing quite well," said Margaret Fuentes, a member of the ordination executive planning committee. "We have a number of committees setup and designated to have responsibility for certain areas of the planning."

In addition to the executive committee, there are 11 subcommittees. The committees include: ceremony and music, transportation, accommodations, hospitality at hotel, receptions, ordination and reception environment, printing, invitations and mailing, communications/media, logistics and master schedule of event.

"One of the biggest parts is planning the Mass itself and the vespers service. In addition we have the social aspects of the receptions and planning for those pieces, but it is all moving ahead quite well," noted Fuentes.

As many as 1,000 people will attend the Jan. 20 ceremony that is slated for Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. Due to limited space, this is an invitation-only service. This is the same procedure that was used for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Daniel N. DiNardo back in 1997.

"The invitations are out. We have sent out a large number of invitations. I am a little concerned about space in the church, because in the wintertime everyone has coats and so forth. We will have to watch the RSVPs closely," she said.

While the episcopal ordination is invitation only, the vigil service to be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City is not an invitation-only ceremony.

"The vigil will be completely open to the public," noted Fuentes. "There will be a reception following the service in Cathedral Hall, which is the lower level of the cathedral."

She pointed out that tickets will be issued for the Jan. 20 episcopal ordination and the reception - a hot and cold hors d'oeuvre buffet - that follows in the Nativity Parish Hall.

"I want to stress that it is one ticket per person. It is not one ticket for each couple," she said. "We will be watching the ticket count very closely. If people do not have their ticket with them - even though they have been invited and have RSVPed, they will not be admitted to the church that day. They must have their ticket."

There will be a large number of people from the Denver-area and, as with Bishop DiNardo's ceremony, there will be representation from every parish in the Diocese of Sioux City.

"Each pastor is being asked to invite two parishioners. We will be mailing tickets in care of the pastor for the people that he has selected to represent the parish," said Fuentes. "We also ask for the parishes that are not going to send anyone to let us know that and return the tickets to us so we know exactly what our count is. Given that it is wintertime and there is a possibility for bad weather, we understand that some parishes may not be able to send someone."

Along with invited guests as well as clergy from the Archdiocese of Denver and Diocese of Sioux City, it is anticipated that about 20 to 25 bishops will attend the ordination.

Archbishop Jerome Hanus of Dubuque will be the principal ordaining bishop. He will be assisted by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver and Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.

Knowing that many people would like to attend the ordination but will be unable to because of space limitations, the diocese has worked hard to line-up extensive media coverage.

Jim Wharton, a member of the executive planning committee, pointed out that it will be broadcast live on KTIV-TV Channel 4 in Sioux City. Evening news anchor Matt Breen will be joined by Msgr. Mark Duchaine, pastor at St. Mary Parishes in Mapleton and Oto, for the telecast. It will also be broadcast by KSCJ radio of Sioux City. Father Ed Girres, a member of the pastoral team serving the Webster County Team Parishes, will assist KSCJ's Don Miller for the radio commentary.

"We are in the process of establishing a radio-network in the diocese. We have received some good preliminary feedback from radio stations. Potentially, we could have as many as 14 radio stations throughout the diocese who sign up to provide the broadcast live," he said.

Wharton encouraged parishioners of the diocese to contact their radio station in their community to ask them to carry the episcopal ordination.

The diocese is also working to set up a live Web-cast feed that would enable people in all parts of the world to see the ceremony.

"The live Web-cast would be a way for our seminarians in Rome to see the ordination as well as people in Denver," noted Fuentes.

Currently, the Archdiocese of Denver is investigating the possibility of doing a satellite up-link to a theatre where people could watch the ordination live.

(Extensive ordination pre-coverage will appear in the Jan. 12 edition of The Globe.)