Archbishop Bernard Hebda told thousands attending his St. Paul installation service the focus should be on God as he assumes leadership of the troubled Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
"God is calling on us to let go of everything," he said.
Hebda was installed as the archdiocese' ninth archbishop at a mass attended by 3,000 parishioners in Cathedral of Saint Paul. He had led the archdiocese for the past 11 months and was named archbishop in March.
Hebda, 56, was the coadjutor of the Newark archdiocese when he was appointed last year as apostolic director following the resignation of embattled Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche. The pair stepped down amid a clergy sex abuse scandal that led to criminal charges against the archdiocese.
The archdiocese also is bankrupt. Attorneys are expected to file details of a reorganization plan by the end of the month.
"With your help and your prayers and especially with God's grace, I'm confident that we together can begin the process of healing, evangelizing, of reconciling, of rebuilding brick by brick, stone by stone," Hebda said.
After the installation mass some said their faith in the archdiocese had been renewed with new leadership.
"I know it's certainly going to better than it has been in the past, and I know he can certainly help us get over the hump that we're in right now," said Marilyn Orchard of West St. Paul.
Sheila Tasser, who drove two hours with her husband from Austin, Minn., along with a caravan of 100 parishioners from the Diocese of Winona, said: "It's a gift for us to witness the installation of Archbishop Hebda as he begins his walk. I don't know the man but just in meeting him today, I feel very good about the future of the archdiocese."
Hebda admitted in his 10-minute homily he doesn't have a full grasp of Minnesota culture and joked about other shortcomings.
"As you probably realized in these last 11 months, the Lord has once again set the stage for the victory to be clearly his," he said. "He's given you a shepherd with more than his share of faults and failings, a shepherd who has so much to learn about the local church and region and its history and its culture. A shepherd who has not yet eaten lutefisk, a shepherd who's feet don't reach the ground when he's sitting comfortably on the [bishop's throne]."
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