Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville Ordained an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington

April 20, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today ordained Fr. Mario E. Dorsonville an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington at a Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez-Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras), and archbishop William Lori, archbishop of Baltimore, served as co-ordaining bishops at the Mass. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States was a principal concelebrant and was joined by other co-ordaining archbishops and bishops as well as many concelebrating priests.

Last month, Pope Francis named Fr. Mario E. Dorsonville, 54, a native of Bogotá, Colombia as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington. Auxiliary bishops assist the archbishop in the pastoral care of the archdiocese. Fr. Dorsonville, who has been a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington since 1999 will have the primary responsibility of ministering to the estimated 270,000 Catholics of Hispanic descent in the archdiocese. In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl asked the faithful gathered to reflect on what was about to happen in the ordination rite. “Our Lord, Jesus Christ sent twelve apostles filled with the power of the Holy Spirit into the world to preach the gospel and gather every race into a single flock to be guided in the way of holiness,” said the cardinal. “Because this service was to continue to the end of time, the apostles selected others to help them. By the laying on of hands which confers the sacrament of orders in its fullness, the apostles passed on the gift of the Holy Spirit which they themselves had received from Christ. In that way, by a succession of bishops unbroken from one generation to the next, the spiritual powers conferred in the beginning were handed down, and the work of our Savior continues in our time.”

The cardinal explained the significance of the pectoral cross that all bishops wear: “It shows the bishop with all of the priests at the service of God’s people teaching, pastorally meeting their needs, and administering all the sacraments.” The bishop’s ring, the cardinal said, “manifests visibly that [the bishop] is pledged in love to the particular Church entrusted to his care. We speak lovingly of Holy Mother Church when we think of the Church Universal and all of her manifestations. But for a bishop the local Church entrusted to his care is his bride. You are to wear the ring as a sign of fidelity to this holy Church. Love her totally, tirelessly and completely.”

“What we celebrate today is your anointing as a successor to the apostles, that body of chosen disciples, charged to feed the sheep. What we witness today is a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this Church in your consecration and through your ministry to the whole Church of Washington.

“The Church speaks of the bishop’s exercise of the munus regendi – the responsibility to lead his flock,” said the cardinal as he concluded his homily. “Pope Francis tells us we are to go out, encounter and accompany all those we hope to bring to the Lord. May your ministry always be an echo of that pastoral challenge given to Peter by our Lord after his Resurrection. ‘Feed my sheep.’ Strengthen them with my Gospel, nurture them with my Body and Blood.”

“Our prayers, the prayers of all of the clergy, religious and faithful of this diocesan Church, are, at this moment, for you and your ministry. As you face the challenges of episcopal service we pray that you will be constantly sustained by God’s grace. May we always see in your ministry the joy of the Lord and the face of the mercy of God…May God bring to fruitful completion what today is so wondrously begun in you.”

At the conclusion of Mass, Bishop Dorsonville offered remarks, reflecting on the people who had helped to guide him, from a newly ordained priest in his native Colombia to his path to the United States to study at The Catholic University of America to better understand the influence that American culture had on the Latin-American youth. “Until that time, I thought that everything in the life of a priest was about giving, but it took a lot of humility to see that I would have to be open to listen and to receive if I ever wanted to succeed in my studies,” said Bishop Dorsonville. He continued, “One of the main topics of the learning process was to find a great opportunity for evangelizing our Hispanic immigrant communities. Walking with many of them, I confirmed once again, that there is no better time in life to spread the joy of the Gospel than when people realize they need to open their hearts to the One who will never abandon them in times of hardships.”

“Today, as a newly ordained bishop, my first thoughts and words are to you my brothers priests, I am one of yours, we know the great work you do every day, the challenges you face within our parish communities are evident, a culture contrary to our Catholic values is right there in the middle of our families,” he said, addressing the many priests who were present to concelebrate the Mass in the cathedral. “The Bishop’s mission is none other than to support you and to walk with you. As a result, everything we achieve may be always to the glory of our Lord and the expansion of His Kingdom here on earth.”

Bishop Dorsonville also personally expressed gratitude to several bishops, including the late Cardinal James Hickey who incardinated him into the Archdiocese of Washington in 1999; Archbishop Lori of Baltimore who was then-auxiliary bishop of Washington; Cardinal McCarrick who had assigned him to Catholic Charities and the Spanish Catholic Center; Cardinal Rodriguez-Maradiaga, “who has been the worldwide giant advocate of solidarity by reminding us that the immigration to the United States will have regularization only when the north, rich in resources, may be able to look in solidarity at the south, rich in dreams and human resources.”

“In a very special way, I would like to reaffirm once again my appreciation and commitment to the person of His Eminence, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, from whom I have learned through the years how to lead in wisdom the Church of Jesus Christ. Your Eminence, I wish to commit as much as I can to support the steady work of evangelization, priestly formation and service to the poor that you have done in a remarkable way in this particular Church of Washington. Due to His Eminence’s work and vision, the future for the Church in Washington is bright, as I look to our dear Saint John Paul II and Redemptoris Mater seminarians, I see in all of them the strength and hope the archdiocese needs to go on in the work of evangelization in the years to come. How precious, dear seminarians, it is, to always say ‘YES’ to Jesus’ call. If you do it, one day you will rejoice for what the Holy Spirit will accomplish in your own lives and journeys.”

“Finally, a word of love to my dear parents who gave me life, my dear friends who are so close to my heart, the people of the parishes where I have served and the staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities and the Spanish Catholic Center. I know all of you are rejoicing today, and from heaven or earth, it is my hope, you will continue to be close to me.”

Bishop Dorsonville then delivered remarks in Spanish, pointing out that the appointment of an immigrant such as himself to be an auxiliary bishop of Washington was recognition by the Holy Father himself of his appreciation for the Hispanic presence in the archdiocese. As bishop, he continued, he would collaborate and support the work of evangelization in the Spanish-speaking communities of this local archdiocese. “Esta es una gran responsabilidad y una tarea que continúa siendo inmensa,” he said (“a great responsibility and a task that continues to be immense.”). With joy and deep commitment to the faith, he said, he called on the faithful to walk together to open the doors of the Church to those who most need to hear the Gospel message and experience God’s love. He concluded by asking the gathered to recite the Hail Mary in either English or Spanish.


The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

 CONTACT: Chieko Noguchi
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