Today the Holy Father appointed Bishop Thomas John Rodi of Biloxi, Mississippi as Archbishop of Mobile, Alabama. The archbishop-elect will also serve as the temporary Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Biloxi until another bishop is appointed.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Bishop Rodi was ordained a priest in 1978. He will be installed as archbishop on June 6, 2008.
As the archbishop of Mobile, he will succeed Archbishop Oscar Hugh Lipscomb who submitted his resignation to the Vatican after reaching the retirement age of 75 over a year ago.
The Pope has also recommended that Bishop Rodi continue to serve as Apostolic Administrator - a move that the archbishop-elect says in a statement, shows the compassion Benedict XVI has for the diocese of Biloxi due to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
“The Holy Father is aware of the continuing efforts of the people of the Diocese of Biloxi to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Promptly after Hurricane Katrina, Pope Benedict sent a personal envoy to the Diocese of Biloxi as a sign of his prayers and support. The decision of the Holy Father, that I am to continue as administrator of the diocese until a successor is appointed, is another visible sign of the Holy Father’s concern for the people of the Diocese of Biloxi. I am most grateful for the Holy Father’s sincere interest in the welfare of the people of Mississippi and, with God’s help I will serve you as administrator until the Holy Father appoints a new bishop.”
Bishop Rodi also expressed his excitement for the new appointment.
“I am both honored and humbled by our Holy Father’s appointment to serve as Archbishop of Mobile. Mindful of my own limitations, and relying upon the help of God, I look forward to serving the people of the archdiocese. I pray that the Good Shepherd will guide me in my new ministry. I am already aware of the deep faith among the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Mobile.”
He also thanked the Diocese of Biloxi for their kindness and offered them words of support. “The Diocese of Biloxi is vibrant. This is a testimony to the character, love, and faith of the laity, religious, and clergy. I thank you for your kindness to me and for your witness as members of the Church and followers of the Lord Jesus. I am sad that I will soon be leaving Mississippi once a new bishop is appointed. However, I am confident that, with God’s help, the Diocese of Biloxi will have a bright future.”
Bishop Rodi will serve 67,351 Catholics and 127 priests in the Archdiocese of Mobile.