Tucson's new Bishop leads thousands in Christmas Eve Mass

Updated: Dec. 24, 2017 at 8:35 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A centuries-old celebration welcomed in a new era in Tucson.

The first Christmas Eve Mass for Tucson's new Bishop, Edward Weisenburger, was held Sunday evening at St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown. 

He entered the children's service at 4:00 p.m. with little fanfare, but in all his religious glory. After spending decades in the Catholic clergy, his first holiday service in southern Arizona didn't seem all that different.

"I find Christmas is Christmas the world over," he told Tucson News Now. "People are warm, generous, kind, and loving. It's just a wonderful experience."

The experience wasn't necessarily the same for those in attendance.

More than 1,000 people packed the pews to witness a first since 2001 -- a Christmas Eve Mass without the leadership of Bishop Weisenburger's predecessor, Bishop Gerald Kicanas.

Weisenburger was installed into the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson on Nov. 29, 2017.

Sunday's service was an adjustment that didn't seem to phase parishioners like Audrey Yebra, who came with her family to the Christmas Eve service.

"I guess I'm just used to change. I've been Catholic all my life. So we were here when Bishop Moreno was here, and then we changed to Bishop Kicanas, and so there's always been change," she said. 

The new Bishop's presence is one that Yebra and others have seemed to welcome.

"I think they loved him so much that I think they now have embraced me very warmly," Bishop Weisenburger said. "That makes me feel very good - knowing that there's kind of a good succession from one Bishop to another is a blessing in every Diocese."

For Yebra, it was just another step in her spiritual journey.

"I see it as life," she said. "Change is good."

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