.- Pope Benedict XVI made headlines in Washington state today by appointing Bishop Blase Cupich to the Diocese of Spokane and accepting the resignation of Bishop William Skylstad who has reached the age of retirement.
In a press conference this morning, Bishop Skylstad reflected on his years as leader of the Washington flock, saying he is “humbled to have had the honor of serving in the Diocese of Spokane as its bishop since April of 1990.”
“Although these years have not been without challenges, it has been a time of great joy in my life,” he added.
Speaking on the appointment of the new bishop, the prelate said that it “is with great joy I introduce to you today my successor, Bishop Blase Cupich, presently the Bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, who will become Bishop of Spokane when he is installed on September 3, 2010.”
“I have known Bishop Cupich for many years,” Bishop Skylstad noted. “He brings a wealth of experience and talents to this ministry. The Catholic Church in Eastern Washington is richly blessed by his appointment as shepherd of this flock.”
Bishop Cupich, who currently serves in the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1949. After attending the College of St. Thomas in Minnesota and the North American College and Gregorian University in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975.
The prelate later completed post graduate studies at Catholic University of America and was ordained and installed as Bishop of Rapid City in 1998. He currently chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Protection of Children and Young People.
As shepherd of the Diocese of Spokane, Bishop Cupich will lead 101,700, Catholics, 152 priests, 55 permanent deacons and 303 religious.