PROVIDENCE — On Friday, May 1, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin joined the Bishops of the United States and Canada in renewing the consecration of the Diocese of Providence to the care of the Blessed Mother.
Through a collective dedication or entrustment of a nation to Mary, an act of consecration was meant to be a reminder to the faithful of the Blessed Mother’s witness to the Gospel and to ask for her effective intercession before her Son on behalf of those in need.
Although the ceremony was not open to the public, the consecration was livestreamed so all could watch from their homes. Bishop Tobin shared that he would hold the intentions, needs and prayers of the diocese in his heart.
In the Cathedral of SS. John and Paul in Providence, Bishop Tobin prayed beside a statue of the Blessed Mother, “In this time of pandemic, we come to you, our sure sign of hope and comfort...With the love of a mother and handmaid, embrace this Diocese of Providence which we entrust and consecrate once again to you, together with ourselves and our families.”
Bishop asked for Mary’s help and care for all of those sick with the coronavirus, those who have died, asking her to watch over caregivers and all those suffering in any way from the pandemic.
“In a special way we commend to you those particularly in need of your maternal care…Accept with the benevolence of a mother this act of consecration that we make today with confidence and help us to be your son’s instruments for the healing and salvation of our country and the world.”
Bishops from around the country led their livestreamed ceremonies of consecration, including Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who led his prayer service at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles.
Alternating between English and Spanish, Archbishop Gomez said: "In this difficult time we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the church. She intercedes with her Son for all are affected in this way by the pandemic. ... We implore her maternal care for her children.”
“Mary was the first person to consecrate herself to Jesus, the first to offer her whole heart to do his will, to set his beautiful plan of redemption," Archbishop Gomez said. "We ask God to give us that same faith, that same courage ... the strength to follow Jesus, to seek his holiness and his kingdom."
A similar liturgy of consecration took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington May 1, led by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, who prayed: "In this time of pandemic, we come to you, our sign of sure hope and comfort. Today we renew the act of consecration and entrustment carried out by those who have gone before us."
Because of local and federal social distancing and self-isolation mandates in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, the rededication liturgy at the basilica was not open to the public, but livestreamed on social media platforms.
This consecration reaffirms the bishops' previous consecrations of the United States to Mary. In 1792, the first bishop of the United States, Bishop John Carroll, consecrated the nation to Mary under the title Immaculate Conception, and in 1846, the bishops unanimously chose Mary under that title as the patroness of the nation.
In 1959, Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle of Washington again consecrated the United States to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This was the year when construction of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington was completed. The national shrine was elevated to minor basilica status by St. John Paul ll Oct. 12, 1990. This was renewed by the U.S. bishops Nov. 11, 2006.
Archbishop Gregory prayed for Mary's "intercession for the needs of our country, that every desire for good may be blessed and strengthened, that faith may be revived and nourished, hope sustained and enlightened, charity awakened and animated."
With reports from Laura Kilgus, Rhode Island Catholic, and Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service.