By Umatuna Si Yu’os Staff and Detroit Catholic
Spirits are high in Rome as Archbishop Michael Byrnes prepares to join other newly named archbishops from throughout the world for a special Mass celebrating the conferral of the pallium with Pope Francis Saturday, June 29.
A contingent of 19 pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Agaña and Archdiocese of Detroit have joined Archbishop Byrnes and Guam chancellor Father Ron Richards for the historic occasion.
Most were able to join the pope as he made his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 26.
The group from Guam includes Catholic wife and mother Jeni Shimizu who explained why she was moved to participate in the pilgrimage which will span June 24-July 1.
“The conferral of the pallium on Archbishop Byrnes is significant as it finalizes his appointment by Pope Francis,” Shimizu said via e-mail.
“I want to witness this happy occasion for our archdiocese and support our shepherd,” she said. “I’m grateful to and deeply blessed by the support of my husband Paul and our children for this once in a lifetime experience.”
Shimizu is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and answered the invitation with another member, Dr. Juan Rapadas and his wife Luisa. Other Guam pilgrims include Sister Angela Perez, Sister Marian Arroyo and Sister Maria Rosario Gaite from the Sisters of Mercy as well as Rick Duenas, chair of the Archdiocesan Finance Council.
Pilgrims from Guam and Detroit began arriving in Italy on Tuesday, June 25.
Shimizu said the highlight of the pilgrimage for her will be the special pallium Mass scheduled for Saturday, June 29 at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Archbishop Byrnes, who served from 2011 to 2016 as an auxiliary bishop in Detroit, officially became the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agaña on Apr. 4, after a Vatican-imposed guilty sentence upon former Archbishop Anthony Apuron was upheld following accusations of sexual abuse.
Until the decision of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was announced, Archbishop Byrnes had been serving as coadjutor archbishop in Guam, though he had been overseeing the archdiocese from a practical standpoint since 2016.
As coadjutor archbishop — a position to which he was appointed on Oct. 31, 2016 — Archbishop Byrnes held the automatic right of succession upon the removal, resignation or retirement of former Archbishop Apuron, who was placed on administrative leave at the time.
The pallium Mass is a papal tradition dating back centuries that signifies a new archbishop’s unity with the pope and his role as a shepherd to his flock.
A pallium is a three-inch wide band worn around the neck and shoulders, with a 14-inch strip hanging down the front and back. Made of wool, it signifies the sheep the archbishop symbolically carries, as Christ the Good Shepherd did.
Historically, the pallium has been conferred upon archbishops directly by the pope. However, in 2015, Pope Francis changed that custom, allowing newly appointed archbishops to receive the pallium itself during a special Mass in their home archdioceses.
Archbishop Byrnes will be formally vested with the pallium during a later date in Guam by Most Rev. Novatus Rugambawa, D.D., the Apostolic Delegate to the countries of the Pacific. All the faithful on Guam will be able to witness that event during a solemn Mass to be celebrated at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica. Once determined, the date will be announced.