Solemn Vespers held to pray for Bishop-Elect James Ruggieri on the eve of his ordination

Carrying on an ancient custom in the Catholic Church, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and family members and friends gathered with Bishop-elect James Ruggieri on the evening of his ordination to pray for him and with him.

Bishop Robert Deeley presided at solemn vespers, which were held at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Scarborough on Monday, May 6.

During the evening, Bishop Deeley blessed the episcopal ring, miter, and pastoral staff, symbols of the office of bishop, which will be presented to Bishop Ruggieri during the ordination rite on Tuesday. The miter is the peaked hat that bishops wear. The ring is a sign of his marriage to the Church and his diocese, and the crosier symbolizes his role as shepherd of his flock.

During vespers, Bishop-elect Ruggieri spoke about the need to be a good shepherd to the people of the Diocese of Portland, saying that a shepherd's care means being among and not aloof from the sheep.

“As I prepare to embark on a new ministry tomorrow as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Portland, I take the words of 1 Peter to heart: be a shepherd. Be a good shepherd to whom the people of God can turn to for example, for encouragement, for loving support. Be a shepherd to the local Church of the Diocese of Portland, Maine. I feel so blessed and honored to have this privileged opportunity, and I am very grateful to our Holy Father for the privilege of being named shepherd of the Diocese of Portland,” he said.

While Bishop-elect Ruggieri said that Jesus is the ultimate model of the good shepherd, he said one of the best examples of a good shepherd that he has encountered in his life is his father, the late John Ruggieri.

“He taught me so much about shepherding: work hard, balance, take time to exercise or for healthy leisure, and I will try to do that, have a firm presence and understanding of the present moment, the now. God is here now,” Bishop-elect Ruggieri said. “I want to advocate tonight for not losing sight of the present, the present moment, the present joys, sorrows, the woundedness of our people. That demands attention because we might be so focused on the future, we might be missing the wounds of our people right with us that need healing.”

During vespers, Bishop-elect Ruggieri stood before the congregation and made a public profession of faith and took an Oath of Fidelity that is sworn by bishops prior to ordination He promised to always be faithful to the Catholic Church and to the pope, to carry out the apostolic duties entrusted to bishops, to watch over the unity of the Universal Church, to conduct himself conscientiously and reverently, to uphold ecclesiastical laws, to look after the Church’s temporal goods, to show particular affection to priests and deacons, and to recognize and promote the dignity of laypeople and their role in the Church’s mission.

Among those in attendance at vespers were Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, and Bishop George Nkuo from the Diocese of Kumbo in Cameroon, who has graciously sent priests to Maine to minister to Catholics here. Also present were bishops and priests from Bishop-elect Ruggieri's home diocese, the Diocese of Providence.

At a reception following vespers, Bishop Richard Henning delivered a toast honoring Bishop-elect Ruggieri and spoke of the qualities he believes will make him a good leader for the people of Maine.

“It seems that wherever you go, the Church comes alive. People are drawn into mission. People begin ministries. They may find themselves no longer content to just sit at home or even just come to Sunday Mass. They want to somehow get involved. All around you, all these kind of effects or vibrations come from your passing by,” Bishop Henning said. “The secret I think – this is my opinion –  is you combine that profound personal humility with an extraordinary confidence in the Lord and his grace and his mercy. I think that is the secret.”

Bishop-elect Ruggieri will be ordained and installed as Bishop of Portland during a Mass that will be celebrated by Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, on Tuesday, May 7, at 2 p.m. The Mass will be live streamed and can be viewed at or Coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m., with the opening procession beginning at 1:40 p.m.

Opening procession
Bishop Ruggieri's family
Thanh Duc Pham
Bishop-Elect James Ruggieri
Bishop Robert Deeley
Bishop Ruggieri takes the Oath of Fidelity
Priests of the Diocese of Portland
Bishop-elect Ruggieri takes the Oath of Fidelity.
Bishop-elect Ruggieri signs the Oath of Fidelity.
Bishop Robert Deeley signs the Oath of Fidelity.
Bishops and Cardinal Christophe Pierre
Priests of the Diocese of Portland.
Priests of the Diocese of Portland.
Bishop Robert Deeley blesses the ring, miter, and crosier.
Father Roland Berngeh
Bishop-elect James Ruggieri receives a congratulatory hug.
Bishop-elect Ruggieri with his family members.
Bishop-elect Ruggieri and Father Robert Pecoraro