Formally becoming Guam's archbishop on April 4, Detroit native, former auxiliary bishop to receive symbol of new office

DETROIT — Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes, a native son of the Archdiocese of Detroit and the current archbishop of Agana, Guam, will join newly appointed archbishops from around the world June 29 for a special Mass celebrating the conferral of the pallium with Pope Francis.

Archbishop Byrnes, who served from 2011 to 2016 as an auxiliary bishop in Detroit, officially became the archbishop of the Pacific island territory on April 4, after a Vatican-imposed sentence upon former Guam Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron was upheld after 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 Archbishop Apuron, who was placed on administrative leave at the time.

As the new archbishop of Guam, Archbishop Byrnes will travel to Rome for the pallium Mass, 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 3-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.

Its use in the Latin rite is reserved to the pope and to metropolitan archbishops, as well as the Latin rite patriarch of Jerusalem.

Pope Francis presents a wooden box containing a pallium, which the pope is also seen wearing, to a new archbishop on the feast of SS. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on June 29, 2018. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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.

While Archbishop Byrnes will be formally vested with the pallium during a later date in Guam with the apostolic nuncio to the Pacific Islands, he will still make the traditional pilgrimage to Rome for a special Mass and celebration with the Holy Father, who will bless the palliums on June 29. 

Archbishop Byrnes, who retains close ties with friends and family in southeast Michigan, is inviting Catholics from both Guam and Detroit to join him for the pilgrimage.

Corporate Travel Service, based in Northville, is sponsoring a pilgrimage to Rome from June 24 through July 1. Faithful who attend the pilgrimage will experience a papal audience, a tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica, a day trip to Assisi, a tour of the “Christian Rome,” and the pallium Mass itself, which will be followed by a reception with Archbishop Byrnes and other North American archbishops at the Pontifical North American College.

Fr. Ron Richards, a Detroit priest on loan to the Archdiocese of Agana as special assistant to Archbishop Byrnes, will lead the pilgrimage.