His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Roman Curia, will be the principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 23 celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica.
The Most Rev. Lawrence E. Brandt, Bishop of Greensburg, will participate in the Eucharistic Celebration along with the Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, Bishop of Pittsburgh; Most Rev. Donald W. Trautman, Bishop of Erie; Most Rev. Joseph V. Adamec, Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown; Most Rev. Roger J. Foys, Bishop of Covington, Saint Vincent Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., and retired Saint Vincent Archabbot Paul R. Maher, O.S.B.
Cardinal Arinze was one of the principal advisors to Pope John Paul II, under whom he served as President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 1985 until October 1, 2002, when he was named Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. On April 25, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI further honored Cardinal Arinze by naming him Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni, replacing Pope Benedict himself in that titular See.
Born in Eziowelle, Anambra, Nigeria, Cardinal Arinze became the youngest bishop in the world at the age of thirty-two. He was baptized at the age of 9 by Father Michael Tansi, who was beatified by John Paul II in 1998. At the age of 15, he entered All Hallows Seminary Ognissanti of Nuewi from which he graduated in 1950. In 1955, he went to Rome to study theology at the Pontifical Urban University. On November 23, 1958, at the chapel of the university, Arinze was ordained to the priesthood.
From 1961 to 1962, Cardinal Arinze was professor of liturgy, logic and basic philosophy at Bigard Memorial Seminary. From there, he was appointed regional secretary for Catholic education for the eastern part of Nigeria. Eventually, he was sent to London, where he attended the Institute of Pedagogy and graduated in 1964. On July 6, 1965, Cardinal Arinze was appointed to the titular church of Fissiana in Nigeria and named coadjutor to the Archbishop of Onitsha. Cardinal Arinze was consecrated Bishop on 29 August 1965. Only two years later, he was asked to take over the pastoral care of the archdiocese and on June 26, 1967 he was named Archbishop. In 1979, his peers elected him President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria where he served until 1984.
Cardinal Arinze’s last visit to Saint Vincent was in April of 2000, when he dedicated the new bell towers at the Archabbey Basilica. Completed in 1905, the Saint Vincent Basilica has served as a symbol of the evangelization efforts of Saint Vincent founder Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., for one hundred years. Archabbot Wimmer arrived in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1846. It had been his dream to someday build a magnificent church, but construction on the Basilica was not begun until 1891, four years after Wimmer’s death. During his lifetime, efforts were focused on establishing schools, missions and daughter abbeys to serve God’s people throughout the United States.