The Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi received word from the Vatican this morning that its almost year-long wait for a bishop is over. Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop Roger Paul Morin, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, as the shepherd of the region’s 67,800 Catholics.
Bishop-elect Morin, who will turn 68 next Saturday, will replace Archbishop Thomas Rodi, who was made the Archbishop of Mobile last April.
Bishop Morin has been active in ministry to the poor since 1967, when he worked in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ summer Witness program. Following his summer experience, Bishop Morin became the director of The Center, a neighborhood social service organization run by the archdiocese. While he served as the full-time director of The Center, Morin enrolled in the seminary, studying in the evenings and on Saturdays.
On April 15, 1971, Roger Morin was ordained to the priesthood in his home parish in Dracut, Mass. and was then assigned to work at St. Henry’s in New Orleans.
Pope John Paul II appointed Fr. Morin as an auxiliary bishop of New Orleans in 2003.
Archbishop Thomas Rodi, the previous bishop of Biloxi, spoke of the skills and gifts that Bishop Morin will bring to his new flock. "I have known Bishop Morin for years and have consistently been impressed by his dedication and talents. He brings to the Diocese of Biloxi his extensive experience as a priest." I am confident that, with God’s help, he will powerfully proclaim the Word of God, join the people of Mississippi in praising God, and lead in making the love of God visible to the poor through the charitable efforts of the Church," Archbishop Rodi said in a statement.
The Archbishop of Mobile also noted Bishop Morin’s experience in dealing with disasters, a problem that Biloxi is still coping with years after Hurricane Katrina.
"Of particular note to those of us on the Gulf Coast, Bishop Morin is no stranger to the devastation of hurricanes, particularly Katrina," said Archbishop Rodi.
"He has been outstanding in his efforts to rebuild the parishes, schools, and charitable efforts of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He knows first hand the challenges and difficulties involved in hurricane recovery. Despite these challenges, he has fostered the revival of the Church and the community with faith and perseverance."
In a statement, the bishop-elect explained that "the trials and tribulations of disastrous storms have not weakened my faith but have instead strengthened it. The experience of personal losses has not deprived me of hope because hope has been deepened by the experience of bounteous blessings brought by so many who have offered assistance in a loving and caring manner. With my own experiences of stormy weather and personal losses, I greet with open arms, the opportunity to meet with God’s help, the challenges remaining ahead of us. May God bless us all."
Bishop-elect Morin will be installed as the third Bishop of Biloxi on Monday, April 27th, in Biloxi’s Cathedral of The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at 2:00 p.m. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Mobile, Thomas J. Rodi, will preside at the ceremony.