Holy Father accepts California resignation, appoints new bishop

.- On Tuesday Pope Benedict XVI accepted the canonically mandated resignation of Bishop Sylvester Ryan of Monterey, California, due to age and appointed a new bishop for the diocese.  Bishop Richard Garcia will be installed as the Ordinary of Monterey on January 30th, 2007.

The 59-year old newly appointed bishop was born in San Francisco and ordained for the Archdiocese there in 1973.  He received is Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (The Angelicum) in Rome, in 1984.  In 1997 Pope John Paul II appointed Garcia as Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento.

Garcia has served as Vicar General for the Diocese of Sacramento as well as Vicar for Pastoral Ministries and Vicar for Clergy.  In addition Garcia has worked extensively as the Episcopal Vicar Hispanic and Other Ethnic Communities.

In a written letter of welcome, the outgoing Bishop Ryan noted his successor’s Hispanic work, noting that, “Bishop Garcia’s Mexican-American background has provided him with deep empathy and motivation to serve the unique multicultural Catholic populations that exist in all of our California dioceses and archdioceses.”

“Since he speaks English and Spanish fluently,” Ryan added, “he will fit well into our Anglo and Hispanic populations along with the other cultural traditions and peoples who are significant in both our history and our contemporary diocesan life.” Bishop Garcia joins Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino as the second Hispanic ordinary in California.

Ryan also pointed out that Bishop Garcia has been deeply engaged in the promotion of social justice for the good of all peoples and communities, especially with a strong concern for the poor and needy.  “His years of service in Sacramento have given him direct knowledge of the workings of our state government along with availing him numerous opportunities in shaping good public policy as he has worked alongside his brother bishops in the California Conference of Catholic Bishops,” Ryan said.

In statements to the diocesan press in Sacramento, Bishop Garcia spoke of his previous experience and said that from what he knows of the Monterey Diocese, “I feel it will be a wonderful place to serve God and all the Catholic laypeople, clergy and religious there.”

“I will leave with mixed emotions,” Garcia said of his time in Sacramento.  “I’m so grateful to God and everyone in the diocese who has been such a big part of my life. But in this new role I hope to grow into what God set in motion in my life a ling time ago.”

For his part, Bishop Ryan offered words of farewell and thanksgiving and said he hopes to remain with the Diocese of Monterey in a “pastoral presence.”  Bishop Ryan had served as Bishop of Monterey since 1992.

Established in 1967, the Diocese of Monterey comprises the counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz. It has a Catholic population of about 195,000 out of a total population of 976,000.

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