Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop George J. Lucas, 59, to serve as the new Archbishop of Omaha, after accepting the resignation of Omaha’s Archbishop Elden Curtiss.
Archbishop-Designate Lucas has served as the bishop of Springfield, Illinois for nearly ten years. In a news conference on Wednesday morning, he expressed his “joy and anticipation” at his new assignment, but said that it is mixed with sadness at having to leave Springfield, which he had come to call home.
Looking forward, Lucas said that he has been praying for his new diocese every day since he learned of his appointment. Regarding his new archdiocese, he said, “I am impressed by the strength of parish life and the value placed on Catholic education.”
“It is humbling to be given such responsibility by the Vicar of Christ, and I thank the Holy Father for this privilege,” Lucas said during the conference. “I look forward to learning about all of the ways in which the Gospel is preached and lived in the Archdiocese of Omaha. I have a great deal to learn, and you all have much to teach me.”
In his new assignment, Lucas will lead over 221,000 Catholics, 148 parishes and missions and 76 primary and secondary schools. His former diocese of Springfield was somewhat smaller, with about 170,000 Catholics, 164 parishes, and 62 parochial schools.
Born in 1949 in St. Louis, Missouri, Lucas was ordained a priest in 1975 and served as an associate pastor for several years. In addition to taking advanced studies at Saint Louis University, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and a Master of Arts degree in history.
Before being ordained Bishop of Springfield, Lucas served as a faculty member for St. Louis Preparatory Seminary, as the rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and as chancellor and vicar general for the St. Louis Archdiocese.
Archbishop-Designate Lucas has selected the phrase “Grace and Mercy” as his episcopal motto, expressing faith and trust in God’s providence to aid and sustain us on our journey towards eternal life.
He will be the fifth Archbishop of Omaha and the tenth to lead the archdiocese when he is installed on July 22, 2009.