The Archdiocese of Agaña has announced that “The Imposition of the Sacred Pallium” on Archbishop Michael Byrnes will take place 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19 at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna.
A special pallium Mass will be celebrated on that day. The imposition will be done by Pope Francis’ representative, His Excellency the Most Rev. Novatus Rugambwa, D.D., the Apostolic Delegate to the Pacific Ocean.
A pallium is a three-inch-wide band worn around the neck and shoulders that is conferred to newly named archbishops. Worn over Mass vestments, the pallium symbolizes an archbishop’s unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him.
Made of wool with a 14-inch strip hanging down the front and back, the pallium signifies the sheep the archbishop symbolically carries, as Christ the Good Shepherd did.
Archbishop Byrnes’ leadership as the shepherd of the Catholic faithful on Guam and Metropolitan Archbishop of Agaña was fully affirmed last April 4 when the Vatican announced it had upheld a guilty verdict against now Bishop Anthony Sablan Apuron for sexual abuse of youths in past years.
Archbishop Byrnes and other newly named archbishops from throughout the world traveled to Rome last June 29 to join Pope Francis in celebrating the pallium Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica during the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. It was announced that the actual imposition of the pallium to the archbishops would take place at their own dioceses with their local faithful.
Archbishop Byrnes had expressed words of gratitude and healing on behalf of our archdiocese before last June’s pallium Mass with the pope.
“The readings from the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus suitably preface the imagery of the pallium,” Archbishop Byrnes said. “That is to say, that the role of the Shepherd is to carry the most vulnerable of the sheep on his shoulders, and in a particular way our attempts to bring a measure of justice and consolation to those who have suffered abuse at the hands of clergy in the past.”
“The insignia is also a reminder to me that I belong to the flock, and I have an obligation to bring healing to the sick, to seek out the lost, and to lead the flock to good pasture,” the archbishop added. “I am grateful to the Holy Father for his trust in me to carry out this gracious effort. I am grateful for the prayers of all the flock in Guam, and to all those who wish good things to our archdiocese.”
Historically, the pallium has been conferred upon archbishops directly by the pope. However, in 2015, Pope Francis changed that custom, allowing newly appointed archbishops to receive the pallium itself during a special Mass in their home archdioceses.