BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Taking the reins of the nation’s oldest Catholic archdiocese. Wednesday, Baltimore’s 16th Archbishop, William Lori, will be officially installed. On the eve of that significant moment, a special celebration was held at the Basilica downtown.

Kai Jackson has more on Baltimore’s new Catholic leader.

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William Lori says Catholic history and tradition are more than a collection of facts. He says they’re sacred and something for which he intends to fight.

The Basilica of the Assumption was filled to near capacity in downtown Baltimore. Most worshippers were those in leadership positions, priests and nuns who were anxious to celebrate the installation of William Lori as Archbishop of Baltimore.

“As this Basilica attests, we are more than the sum of our history, even as we are indelibly part of the culture,” Lori said.

Members of the archdiocese acknowledge the challenges the Catholic Church is facing but believe as Archbishop, William Lori will provide the leadership needed to navigate turbulent times.

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“Archbishop Lori is a very thoughtful priest and a thoughtful bishop but he also—you can see he has a good sense of humor,” said Mount DeSales Academy Principal Sister Anne Catherine.

Same-sex marriage, contraception and healthcare are just some of the issues facing the church.

“Help us to defend marriage and foster family life in a time of cultural confusion,” Lori said.

“Well, I think he’s going to follow very, very strictly the church’s teachings on all those things,” said archdiocese deacon Skip Comegna.

In his homily, Archbishop designee Lori also thanked Cardinal Edwin O’Brien—who he’s replacing—for his leadership.

“Let me thank you, Cardinal O’Brien, for the warmth of your welcome and for giving this archdiocese a shepherd’s care,” Lori said.

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WJZ will bring you complete coverage of the new Archbishop’s installation. You can watch the ceremony live on WJZ.COM Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.