Pope Francis has named Monsignor Steven J. Raica of the Diocese of Lansing to become the next bishop of Gaylord, Mich.
“In these days, as I prepare myself to serve the People of God in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula as a new bishop, I offer my praise and gratitude to the Lord Jesus whose presence in my life has enabled me to experience an abundance of life,” Bishop-designate Raica said June 27.
“My gratitude also goes to Pope Francis for entrusting me with this honor and great responsibility.”
Bishop-designate Raica, 61, asked for prayers that he may “serve the Lord totally and faithfully” in his position in Gaylord.
Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing praised the bishop-to-be as “a good priest, a good friend, and a man of good counsel” who is “gentle, considerate, and solid in his pastoral abilities.” He said the bishop will be “an intelligent, cultured, pastoral, gentle, and faith-filled leader of the Church.”
“The entire Diocese of Lansing offers him our heartiest congratulations and prayers!” Bishop Boyea said in a statement.
Coadjutor Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Newark, the previous Bishop of Gaylord, welcomed the appointment. He said he has known the bishop-designate for over 25 years. The archbishop praised his “pastoral zeal, collaborative spirit, and intellectual gifts.”
“I believe that he will be an excellent shepherd – after the Heart of Jesus – for a flock that I will always remember as being incredibly loving.”
Bishop-designate Raica is currently chancellor of the Lansing diocese.
He was born Nov. 8, 1952, in Munising, Mich., to Mary and Steve Raica. In 1978, Lansing’s then-bishop Kenneth Povish ordained him to the priesthood, the Lansing diocese said. Pope John Paul II named him a prelate of honor in 1998.
He has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Michigan State University in East Lansing as well as a master’s degree in divinity from St. John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, Mich., and a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Detroit.
Bishop-designate Raica served as associate pastor or pastor at Catholic churches in Burton, Flint, Ovid, Charlotte and Bellevue. He served as co-rector of Lansing’s St. Mary Cathedral and chaplain of Olivet College in Olivet.
He was also superior of Casa Santa Maria, the North American College’s graduate studies house in Rome. He served as spiritual director and adjunct faculty at the college from 1999-2005. From 2007-2009, he was vice postulator of the sainthood cause of Servant of God Antonietta Meo, a devout Italian girl who died of cancer at the age of six in 1937.
The future bishop has worked in deaf ministry and is capable of conversing in sign language as well as Italian and Polish. He is able to read Latin, French, Spanish and German.
He is a music lover with an affinity for classical, jazz, classical organ and choral music. He enjoys reading, cooking, travel and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the Diocese of Gaylord said.
Bishop-designate Raica holds both a licentiate and a doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian University in Rome. He wrote his doctorate on Canon 1529 of the code of Catholic canon law, which concerns a judge’s role in collecting evidence in canonical trials. He has served on the Lansing diocese’s tribunal as a pro-synodal judge, the promoter of justice and a tribunal judge.
He sits on the boards of several Catholic organizations, including the board of FAITH Catholic, the Lansing diocese’s publishing and communications arm.
The bishop-designate has served the diocese in several other roles. From 2005-2009 he was the Lansing diocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator.
The Diocese of Gaylord is the northernmost Catholic diocese on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The predominantly rural diocese has about 60,471 Catholics in a population of about 508,000. The diocese has 80 parishes and 17 Catholic schools. It has been without a bishop since September 2013, when Bishop Hebda left for Newark.
Bishop-designate Raica noted that the announcement of his appointment fell on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He prayed that the clergy, vowed religious and Catholic faithful of the Gaylord diocese will join him “in giving vibrant witness to the love and mercy beautifully portrayed by the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
He will be ordained a bishop on Aug. 28 at Gaylord’s Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral.