WASHINGTON — The Archdiocese for the Military Services received a new auxiliary bishop on Thursday, as Msgr. Robert Coyle was ordained with exhortations to remain humble, vigilant and faithful to the Gospel.
“The successor of the apostles is humble and recognizes that he has received everything from God. He is sober and alert so as to be vigilant,” Military Archbishop Timothy Broglio told Bishop-designate Coyle in his homily before the ordination.
He encouraged the new bishop to listen willingly to those he serves.
“Much of your ministry will be listening as you allow the soldier to tell his story, the veteran afflicted with PTSD relate what brought him to this point or the Marine share her pride in the corps,” he said.
The April 25 ordination Mass took place in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
Bishop Coyle will serve as episcopal vicar for the eastern half of the U.S. He succeeds Bishop Joseph Estabrook, who died last year.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services provides Catholic pastoral ministries and religious services to members of the U.S. armed forces and their families. It serves more than 220 installations in 29 countries and has responsibility for the pastoral care of more than 1.8 million Catholics.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and ordained to the priesthood in 1991, Bishop Coyle served as a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and pastor of a New York parish before Pope Benedict XVI selected him to become a bishop.
The 48-year-old is a decorated Navy chaplain who served as a command chaplain on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier. He also served on the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier during a deployment to the Persian Gulf. He is a past command chaplain at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
In his homily, Archbishop Broglio reminded Bishop Coyle of the need to share the Gospel.
“Like the apostles whose unworthy successors we are, we seek that personal conversion, and then go forth to invite every person to meet the Lord Jesus and discover in him the only path to the fullness of life,” he said.
“We never forget that the Good News has a unique and exclusive object: the person, the teaching and the ministry of Jesus, only Messiah and truly the Son of God.”
The archbishop also had bracing words about the religious-freedom situation in the United States. Religious-liberty concerns have become increasingly prominent in the military, as chaplains have reported prohibitions, threats and disciplinary action for speaking about the Church’s teaching on marriage and homosexuality.
“The fight for the freedom of conscience has reached our shores, and we find ourselves on the front lines. Fidelity to the Gospel has a higher price, and vigilance is necessary,” Archbishop Broglio said, adding that “we cannot be blind to the challenges of the present day.”
He further reflected on the mission of the Military Archdiocese.
“Very much like the apostles, pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA has the globe as its area of ministry. We are challenged with a shortage of priests, an abundant flock and daunting distances,” he said.
“Bishop-elect Coyle, I am grateful for your willingness to accept this ministry and to leave behind the familiar to embrace the nomadic task of pastoral visitation.”