Statement of Bishop John M. D’Arcy:
Appointment of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades as ninth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Statement by Bishop John M. D’Arcy
I am honored to announce, with great joy, that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has appointed as ninth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend the present Bishop of Harrisburg (Pennsylvania), Kevin C. Rhoades.
Bishop Rhoades was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Harrisburg in 1983. He has advanced degrees in canon law and theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.
He has served as rector of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. â€” one of the oldest seminaries in the United States. I was privileged to visit there as part of the apostolic visitation of seminaries in 2005. And even though Bishop Rhoades was no longer at the seminary since he had been appointed as bishop of Harrisburg, one could see among faculty and students great respect for his intelligence, holiness and priestly character. As a seminarian, he studied Spanish intensely and is fluent in that language. This will be a great blessing, for the increasing number of Hispanic Catholics in our diocese.
There are two important points I would like to make before Bishop Rhoades speaks.
1. This appointment shows the great importance Pope Benedict XVI places on this diocese. He has sent us a well-prepared bishop, who has served five years as bishop of a diocese larger than ours â€” Harrisburg, Pa., which is also the capital city of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I know from other sources how beloved he is there, and this will be painful for them. A gift for us. A loss for them.
In the Year for Priests, we have received an exemplary priest. He is devoted to sanctification and formation of priests. He has a track record of attracting young men to the priesthood. When he became bishop, there were 11 studying for the priesthood for the Diocese of Harrisburg, now there are 25. One of the great issues of the times in light of all we have been through is the careful screening and sound formation of priests, and this is his main expertise. He is dedicated to the spiritual formation of families and young people.
2. Bishop Rhoades is bishop of his home diocese â€” a place where he grew up in the small town of Mahanoy City, Pa. He probably presumed he would be bishop there for the rest of his life, and he certainly was content there. Yet, he immediately accepted the request of Pope Benedict XVI. Like the apostles in the fifth chapter of Luke, he left everything to follow the call of Christ.
Now, we have an obligation to welcome him with love. To realize, in faith, that he is sent by Christ. To give thanks to God and to the successor of Peter for this great gift. To cooperate with him and collaborate and pray for him from this moment on. He is a sign that the apostolic ministry will continue in our midst. The Eucharist will be celebrated, the Gospel will be proclaimed, sins will be forgiven, priests will be ordained, the poor will be served and the faith will be nourished. Thanks be to God.
I am pleased to tell you that his installation as Bishop is scheduled to take place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Jan. 13, 2010.
Pope Benedict XVI has kindly appointed me as apostolic administrator until the installation on Jan. 13, 2010.
Bishop Rhoades: We welcome you as we would welcome Christ himself, for you have come in his name.