.- Pope Benedict XVI appointed on Saturday Bishop of Harrisburg, Penn. Kevin C. Rhoades as the ninth Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the diocese that includes the University of Notre Dame.
Bishop Rhoades will replace Bishop John D'Arcy, who until Saturday was the oldest bishop governing a diocese in the US. He was prominent early this year for his strong stance against President Obama’s Notre Dame invitation.Bishop D’Arcy strongly criticized Notre Dame President John Jenkins, C.S.C. for honoring the President despite his pro-abortion stance, and made good on his pledge to stay away from the graduation. He decided at the last minute to attend what he called a “prayerful” graduation alternative organized on the campus by ND Response, a student-led pro-life group.
Bishop Rhoades was born November 26, 1957, in Mahanoy City, Penn. and graduated from Lebanon Catholic High School in 1975.
He enrolled at Mount Saint Mary’s College (now University) in Emmitsburg, Maryland in the fall of 1975 and studied there for two years. In 1977, he entered Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, Penn., earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy there in 1979. He did his theological studies at the North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University, both in Rome, from 1979-1983. He also studied Spanish at the University of Salamanca in Spain during the summer of 1982.
He was ordained a priest of the Harrisburg Diocese on July 9, 1983. Besides being a parochial vicar at Saint Patrick Parish in York, he ministered in the Spanish-speaking apostolates at Cristo Salvador Parish in York and Cristo Rey Mission in Bendersville.
In 1985 he returned to the Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned advanced degrees in dogmatic theology and canon law.
Then in 1988, he returned to the Harrisburg Diocese to serve as assistant chancellor under then-Bishop Keeler. During this time, he also ministered as the director of the diocesan Spanish apostolate.
In 1995 he accepted a full-time faculty position with Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary.
In March 1997, he was named rector of the Seminary, an office he held until his appointment by Pope John Paul II as Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg on October 14, 2004.
Bishop Rhoades served until today as President of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and as Co-chair of the Pennsylvania Conference on Interchurch Cooperation.
“Naturally, it will not be easy for me to bid farewell to my family and friends, my brother priests and the faithful of the Harrisburg diocese," Bishop Rhoades said in a statement. “My greatest joys as Bishop have been in being with the people, teaching the faith, and celebrating the sacraments.”
He noted his new diocese differs from the Diocese of Harrisburg in that it has five Catholic colleges and universities "including the internationally renowned University of Notre Dame."
“I ask for the people’s prayers that I might be a true shepherd after the heart of Christ,” he added.Bishop Rhoades will be installed as Bishop D'Arcy's successor on January 13, 2010.