With the full grandeur and authority of the Roman Catholic Church, the Most Rev. William Shawn McKnight became the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City on Tuesday.
McKnight was ushered into his position with a well-coordinated processional ceremony that began at 2 p.m. in Jefferson City’s Cathedral of St. Joseph. The Most Rev. John Gaydos, retiring as the bishop, was thanked for his service, but the crux of the day was the celebration of a newfound vitality in the church, fostered by the anointing of one of the youngest bishops in the country.
McKnight is the first Jefferson City bishop from outside of Missouri, and his most recent home was Wichita, Kansas. He will be in charge of a diocese that spans one third of Missouri, encompassing 38 central and northeastern Missouri counties, including Boone.
Roughly 82,000 Catholics live in that area, about 11 percent of the population, and the diocese includes 95 parishes, 37 Catholic elementary schools and three Catholic high schools, totaling approximately 7,000 students.
With at least 500 people in attendance — including upwards of 20 bishops from around the country — police and volunteers were stationed outside to help people find their way.
The cathedral filled up before McKnight had come inside. Prior to his entrance, an orchestra and choir serenaded the crowd, and clergymen — bishops, priests or deacons — slowly filed in, wearing vestments and traditional clothing. The procession then gave way to the singing of one of what would be many hymns.
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