GARY — Walls are being painted, letter boards are being changed and plants are being placed as the Diocese of Gary prepares to welcome its fifth bishop.
The Most Rev. Robert McClory will be ordained at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels as the diocese's fifth bishop on Tuesday.
His appointment comes after former Bishop Donald Hying announced plans to return to Wisconsin as the bishop of the Diocese of Madison.
McClory, who has spent nearly two decades as a pastor in his home state of Michigan, said though he just got into the Region on Thursday, he has already been welcomed with open arms.
"The people have been warm and gracious," McClory said. "There's a sense of excitement that I have, and certainly the people of the Gary diocese have, so it's been a warm embrace."
McClory said he has been busy preparing for the event, which included a one-week retreat that was "good spiritual preparation," he said.
The bishop-elect and avid sports fan said he also has been studying the "playbook" on the ordination mass while getting acquainted with people in his new diocese.
Prior to his ordination, McClory will host an evening prayer at 7 p.m. Monday at St. Michael the Archangel Church, 1 W. Wilhelm St. in Schererville.
During the prayer, McClory will give a homily, where he plans to share a message of hope and compassion.
"Ultimately, because my theme and my motto is, 'We preach Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake,' that will be a part of the preaching as well," he said. "I'll make sure that I incorporate that element of service so that people are aware."
Also during the prayer, various insignia will be blessed, including a ring, to symbolize his fidelity to and love to the people he will serve; a miter, a symbol of holiness; and a crosier, which symbolizes how one serves in pastoral governance, McClory said.
On Tuesday, McClory will carry the crosier that was given to the first bishop of the diocese, Andrew Grutka, which was given to Grutka by Bishop John Francis Noll.
The ordination is a celebration for the diocese, McClory said, adding what he looks forward to the most is sitting on the cathedra for the first time.
"For the first time, I'll be stationed in a place where I'll show my love and leadership and teaching to the people of Gary," McClory said. "That's when I'll know that I'm home."
Creating a legacy
As he looks to the future, McClory said he wants to hear from parishioners at the diocese and the community about their needs.
"The synod was a great gift. Its motto, its own scripture of passage was, 'Go make disciples,'" he said. "That's a beautiful way to think about our mission as Christians. ... Certainly building upon the principles and the priorities of the synod will be a good road map for me. I feel very blessed to have received that as a gift coming already into the Diocese of Gary."
Prior to coming to Gary, McClory said he was impressed by the amount of prayer he received.
"They were praying for me before either of us knew that I would become the bishop. When I was named the bishop, people have been praying for me," McClory said. "That reservoir of love and prayer is a beautiful and tremendous gift."
That sentiment reminded McClory of the Simple Porter Solanus Casey, who answered the door to a monastery in Detroit and offered a simple prayer: Thank God ahead of time.
"I'm on the cusp of a future that I think is full of hope and joy and love," he said. "I know already I can thank God ahead of time because he's going to use the people of this region. He's going to use the people of the Diocese of Gary to show God's love to others."
As he settles in, McClory said he looks forward to having his inaugural bowl of lemon rice soup in the Region. But he's already a fan of the Northwest Indiana staple.
A son of the industrial Great Lakes and a Detroiter, McClory said he has witnessed economic distress, but has seen how love can flourish in times of turmoil.
"When you have challenges, it's good to bond together with other people," McClory said. "I see myself obviously as a leader of the Roman Catholic Church in this region, but also to want to be a good neighbor to all men and women of goodwill, as we seek to bring vibrancy and to continue to ensure that we have a beautiful community."