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Bishop Soto becomes ninth bishop of Sacramento

Bishop Weigand ends 15 years as leader of diocese


By Denise MacLachlan
Herald staff


Transfer of the See of Sacramento from Bishop Weigand to Bishop SotoNoting that it has been “a great honor and privilege” to be bishop of Sacramento for 15 years, Bishop William K. Weigand handed his crozier to Bishop Jaime Soto, his successor, during a two-hour Mass of thanksgiving Nov. 30.


More than 1,500 people crowded into downtown Sacramento’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament to witness the transfer of the See of Sacramento from Bishop Weigand to Bishop Soto, 52, who became the ninth bishop of Sacramento. His motto is “Gozo y Esperanza” (“Joy and Hope”).


In his homily, Bishop Weigand told the congregation it had been “an honor and a privilege” to be their bishop. He told his successor: “You are inheriting a very special flock.”


Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop Weigand on Nov. 29. The announcement was made in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.


Head of the Diocese of Sacramento since 1994, Bishop Weigand is 71 years old, four years younger than the age at which canon law requires a bishop to turn in his resignation.


In April 2005 he had a liver transplant. His own liver was damaged by primary sclerosing cholangitis, an uncommon, progressive liver disease that causes scarring near the liver, which affects the organ’s function.


Despite his illness, Bishop Weigand routinely put in six-day weeks during his tenure as head of the diocese, which has 103 parishes and 42 mission churches in 20 counties, with a Catholic population of more than 900,000.


When Bishop Soto was named as his coadjutor in October 2007, he said he was pleased to have assistance in shepherding “this vast 20-county diocese.”


In his homily, the bishop cited many changes in the diocese during his years as bishop, including the renovation of the cathedral, the opening of Cristo Rey High School, and the first diocesan synod held in the diocese in 75 years.


After the homily, Bishop Weigand’s coat of arms was replaced with Bishop Soto’s on the cathedra, or bishop’s chair. Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco presented Bishop Soto with the crozier and the archbishop and Bishop Weigand escorted Bishop Soto to the cathedra, symbolizing his succession as the ninth bishop of Sacramento.


Bishop Soto, in remarks in Spanish and English, thanked Bishop Weigand for being “a vigilant and alert servant of the Lord.”


Then, quoting Psalm 130 on the soul as a sentinel looking for the Lord, Bishop Soto said, “May we all become that for which we long. May the light of the Lord’s dawning shimmer in our faces. May we see with joy and hope the morning glow of his kingdom shining in all we say and do.”