Hundreds of devout souls came out Friday to celebrate one of Boulder City’s own, the Rev. Gregory Gordon, who was ordained as the first auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas.
People traveled from throughout Southern Nevada, California and across the nation to attend. There might even have been a few international visitors.
The size of the crowd more closely resembled that of a concert or major sporting event. Parking outside the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer in Las Vegas overflowed to the nearby streets and industrial parks.
The ordination was unlike anything I have ever been to before, including the ordination of a Methodist minister.
I have been to numerous services in a Catholic church, but Gordon’s ordination was filled with centuries-old rituals and ceremonial pomp.
The prestige of his new position warranted the attention it received.
In some ways, the ordination reminded me of the Jewish High Holy days. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department were on site to make sure there were no incidents and to help direct traffic. Special tickets were required for entry. Ushers helped people find seats. And those attending were dressed in their finest attire.
But once the service began, that’s where the similarities ended. The ordination was conducted in English, Spanish and a language I believe was Latin. I have never seen so many officiants take part in a single service.
There was an assembly of bishops and archbishops, each wearing ceremonial robes and miters. Whenever they had to move, they were escorted by altar servants.
There was a ceremonial choir and what sounded like a full-fledged orchestra, though it was probably fewer musicians.
A program, which contained the names of those officiating, prayers and music, offered some help as it explained many of the symbols being used throughout the ordination ceremony. It also left much unexplained for those unfamiliar with the rites.
Like any religious service, a single word or two didn’t adequately describe what the uninitiated were about to witness or how long it would take.
While I didn’t understand much of what was happening, I certainly appreciated the solemnity of the occasion and the pageantry.
Gordon, a 1978 graduate of Boulder City High School, was overwhelmed with emotion throughout the nearly three-hour ceremony. His smile was as wide as it could be as he walked around the sanctuary showing everyone assembled there his Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis announcing his appointment.
When he finally had the opportunity to address the congregation, his voice trembled as he struggled to fight back tears of joy, describing the significance of the day, thanking everyone for their support and promising to fulfill his new role to the best of his abilities.
It was a beautiful event and whether you were of the Catholic faith or not, it filled the soul with the spirit of benevolence and brotherhood.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.