The new co-adjutor bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba, Griselda Delgado del Carpio, (right), with the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, moments before her consecration ceremony.
In a service described as “full of life and energy,” The Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, 55, was consecrated on Feb. 7 as the new co-adjutor Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Cuba.
The pews at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Havana were packed as about 400 people – busloads from parishes where Bishop Delgado had served as priest – gathered for the four-hour service. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, primate of The Episcopal Church, and Archbishop John Holder, the new primate of the Church of the Province of the West Indies, celebrated the Eucharist as members of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba. (The Council has overseen the Cuban church since it separated from The Episcopal Church in 1967 because of difficult relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States.)
Archbishop Hiltz, chief celebrant and chief consecrator in his capacity as Council chair, presided over parts of the Eucharist in Spanish. Archbishop Hiltz isn’t fluent in Spanish, but “he worked very diligently on it in events leading up to the service,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, the primate’s principal secretary. “He spoke slowly and people had the printed text in front of them. I think there was a very deep appreciation of his willingness to try.” Archbishop Hiltz’ sermon was, however, delivered in English and Bishop Jefferts Schori, who speaks Spanish, acted as translator.
In his sermon, Archbishop Hiltz expressed confidence in Bishop Delgado’s leadership. He recalled that when the Council asked Bishop Delgado if she would accept the appointment, she had replied, “I live for the witness of the Church in Cuba.” He said that “as she has poured her heart and soul into her parish ministry, so we believe she will serve the diocese with deep love…She will encourage and support all of you in your ministries, lay and ordained. She will call you to prayer and to good works…”
Bishop Delgado was appointed by the Council after two special electoral synods held last year failed to elect a successor to Bishop Miguel Tamayo Zaldivar, who is retiring as interim bishop. She was chosen from a pool of candidates who were asked by the Council to submit written responses to a series of questions.
In her submission, Bishop Delgado spoke of the Spirit of God “blowing its fresh air” to renew Cuban vocation and witness to the Gospel, said Archbishop Hiltz. “Hers is a theology of hope grounded in the context of the church local,” he said. “She speaks of the rebuilding of temples throughout Cuba – the restoration of churches and the growing of congregations through worship and service – through reading biblical texts, celebrating the Eucharist, sharing in prayer for the community and for the world, and then sharing food, providing clothing, and distributing medicines as any and all have need.”
Bishop Delgado’s consecration ceremony was steeped in symbolism. Her daughters Griselda and Marcela, and son, Lautaro, vested her with liturgical garments imbued with deep meaning. The stole had come all the way from Bishop Delgado’s native Bolivia, which she had left at the height of military coups in the early ’80s; the cope, mitre and pectoral cross were gifts from the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church of the U.S. The Canadian gift was given in memory of Gail Virginia (Gini) Pollesel, wife of Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, who was killed in a car accident on Dec. 27. The couple had visited the church in Cuba on many occasions, in Archdeacon Pollesel’s capacity as Council representative to the diocese’s annual synod.
The collection, which came from the service as well as contributions from parishes, was offered to Haiti, which is still reeling from a devastating earthquake that hit the capital, Port-au-Prince and neighbouring suburbs, on Jan. 12. Council members saw this gesture of solidarity as “evidence of Communion,” said Archdeacon Feheley.
As she received the mitre, Archbishop Hiltz reminded Bishop Delgado that as servant leader, “the bishop is called to care for all the Churches.” He described a bishop’s ministry as one that brings “great joy” and “great pain.” Joy comes when the church gathers “in times of celebration and new beginnings,” and pain comes when there is “dissension and conflict among the faithful,” he said. The challenge is “to address it, and to declare that we belong ultimately not to one party or another, but to Christ.”
Archbishop Hiltz quoted the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who said that one should be able to see in the bishop “the Christ who gathers the people, speaking words of welcome, forgiveness, healing, and peace.”
A bishop must also have a commitment “to cherish diversity within unity,” he added. “It is reflected in our willingness to come to the table respecting the range of theological perspectives our Anglican tradition has the capacity to embrace.” It is also reflected “in the generosity of spirit and substance for relief in emergencies of a catastrophic nature such as we have seen in Haiti in recent weeks and in long-term commitments to the repair of the world through the Millennium Development Goals,” he said.
A graduate of Cuba’s Seminario Evangelico de Teologia, Bishop Delgado was ordained a priest in 1990. She worked at the parishes of San Juan Evangelista, Coliseo, San Felipe Diacono, Limonar, Santa Maria Virgen, and the missions at Cuatro Esquinas and Guachinango.