Question: How many diocesan officials does it take to install a new bishop?

Answer: At least two dozen. That's how many have been gathering at the diocesan Pastoral Center in Albany to discuss invitations, color-coded seating at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and, especially, the logistics of finding parking spaces for 1,200 people on a weekday afternoon in downtown Albany.

There are also separate committees like the Diocesan Liturgy Committee working on specific parts of the planning.

"There's an awful lot that goes into this that no one ever sees; it's behind the scenes," remarked Rev. Michael Farano, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Albany Diocese and overall coordinator of the ordination and installation planning committee.

"It's monumental - but we'll do it," he added.

Getting started
Already, Bishop-elect Edward B. Scharfenberger is completing a form on his preferences for the April 10 Mass at which he'll be ordained a bishop and installed as shepherd of the Albany Diocese. April 10 is a Thursday - the day most bishops are installed, since it's more convenient for fellow bishops and priests to attend. The ceremony will be at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral.

Officials are discussing Scripture readings and musical selections with the Bishop-elect, and he's choosing who he'd like to do the readings and participate in other parts of the liturgy.

"Music is very important to him," added Elizabeth Simcoe, diocesan chancellor for pastoral services.

In fact, she's learned that, whenever Bishop-elect Scharfenberger was in residence at a parish in the Brooklyn Diocese, he would sing with the choir.

On the list
Both the Bishop-elect and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard are submitting lists of people they'd like to invite to the ceremony, and diocesan officials are discussing how many people from each of the Diocese's 127 parishes might be able to attend.

At Bishop Hubbard's 50th anniversary celebration last October, two representatives from each parish were chosen, but Bishop-elect Scharfenberger will be inviting additional people from his home diocese of Brooklyn, further filling the cathedral, which seats a maximum of 1,200.

Since hundreds of priests could potentially attend the Mass, Rev. William Pape, rector of the Cathedral, will be borrowing as many as 200 sets of white priestly vestments. He's done that before: For the funeral of Archbishop Joseph Ryan in 2000, he contacted the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., to borrow vestments for visiting clergy.

Now, as then, Father Pape will ask the shrine to ship hundreds of priestly robes to the Cathedral, where sacristans will unpack and hang up the vestments, then re-box them and ship them back after the ceremony.

"We also have to make sure our own vestments are set for Bishop-elect Scharfenberger, Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan [of the New York Archdiocese], Bishop Hubbard, Bishop [Nicholas] DiMarzio [of Brooklyn], Archbishop [Carlo Maria] Vigano [the Vatican's apostolic nuncio to the U.S.]," Father Pape continued.

He listed other items on his agenda:

•  renting chairs to accommodate more Mass-goers;

•  setting up places for clergy and for Knights and Dames of Malta, Knights of Columbus and others in the procession to vest in their ceremonial attire before Mass;

•  making sure there's a place in the cathedral's rectory for visiting bishops to vest and to get refreshments later on, before they head home;

•  making sure "everything is in good shape" at the cathedral, from having enough communion hosts, wine and chalices available to checking that candleholders and the like are in good condition; and

•  buying flowers for the cathedral. ("We don't usually have flowers during Lent, but there are exceptions," Father Pape told The Evangelist.)

Father Farano called it "a blessing" that the Diocese has the "template" of both Bishop Hubbard's anniversary celebration last October and the rededication of the cathedral in 2010 to work from, since those events were similar in scope and in many details.

Where to park?
Parking for the ceremony will be the biggest complication. Officials are looking into whether they can rent the parking lot next to the cathedral - used by state workers on weekdays - or either a parking garage across the street or a parking area under the Empire State Plaza. If none of those are available, Mass-goers may have to be bused in from further-away sites like Bishop Maginn High School in Albany.

Rev. James Lefebvre, pastor emeritus of St. Mary's parish in Albany, is working with the Albany Police Department (for which he serves as chaplain) to manage traffic - and also to close off part of Eagle Street, which runs in front of the cathedral, during the ceremony.

Press releases will explain the ceremony and its "key players" to the media, who are expected to come out in force to cover the Diocese's first new bishop in 37 years. Ken Goldfarb, director of the diocesan Communications Office, is coordinating with Time Warner Cable News to broadcast the ceremony live and allow the Diocese to live-stream it; EWTN and other local media outlets might also use footage.

"EWTN has indicated an interest in airing the entire ceremony," Mr. Goldfarb noted.

Details as small as the amount of internet bandwidth the cathedral has available must be considered and possibly augmented with the help of the Diocese's Information Technology Office.

Getting there
Aside from parking, transportation is an issue. Some clergy and other out-of-town visitors could be arriving by car, train, plane or even - as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the New York Archdiocese did for Bishop Hubbard's anniversary Mass - by helicopter, so arrangements must be made to pick them up and bring them to the cathedral. Law enforcement will help to escort dignitaries like the Vatican's apostolic nuncio.

For those staying overnight, a block of rooms must be reserved at a local hotel, and transportation arranged to and from there.

Officials are also arranging a reception after the ceremony at the Kitty Carlisle Hart Theatre Lounge at The Egg in Albany, which means planning a menu and arranging for "welcoming ministers" to be stationed on the Empire State Plaza's concourse to direct people.

As hectic as this time is, "it's fun," Father Pape concluded. The cathedral's staff are "just wonderful" at handling the details for which they're responsible, he said: "They take pride in what they do."

Weather woes?
That only leaves the weather - one detail that no official can control. For instance, when Bishop Salvatore Matano was installed as Bishop of the Rochester Diocese in January, Mrs. Simcoe recalled, "they had a terrible snowstorm." She had planned to attend Bishop Matano's installation to get ideas for Albany, but the weather stopped her from traveling - as it did many of the clergy who had RSVP'd "yes" to attending.

Now, Mrs. Simcoe is wondering how the weather will be in Albany in April.

"If the temperature is between 40 and 50 and clear," she said, the scores of people who'll be participating in the procession into the cathedral can probably walk down the block from their vesting area at the cathedral's former school.

If it's pouring rain or even snowing, they may have to be bused even that one block - or, Mrs. Simcoe mused, "we might find a sponsor who could offer commemorative umbrellas."