The Holy Father has appointed a priest from the Diocese of Pittsburgh to become the fourth bishop of Gaylord, Michigan. Msgr. Bernard A. Hebda, who is a graduate of both Harvard and Columbia University, will succeed Bishop Patrick R. Cooney who submitted his resignation to the Vatican upon reaching the age of 75 in March.
Bishop-elect Hebda, who is currently undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts at the Vatican, expressed his excitement for his new position today, saying that he is both “humbled and honored” at the decision to appoint him to lead the Michigan diocese.
"Never in my wildest dreams have I ever imagined that I would one day be the Bishop of Gaylord,” he told the faithful in the Diocese of Gaylord. “I look forward to getting to know the people of this diocese – their needs, their strengths, their history, so that we can together strive to continue to make Christ’s presence felt in this portion of His vineyard.”
Born in 1959, Msgr. Hebda lived in Pittsburgh until his college years. He completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University before moving on to study law at Columbia University.
According to the Diocese of Gaylord, the bishop-elect then studied philosophy at Duquesne before completing his theological studies at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Msgr. Hebda was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1989, before completing his licentiate in canon law the following year.
The bishop-elect was then appointed to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts in Rome in 1996, a department of the Vatican responsible for the interpretation of Church laws. He became the council’s undersecretary in 2003.
While in Rome, Msgr. Hebda also worked as an adjunct spiritual director at North American College and as a confessor for the postulants of Mother Teresa’s order, the Missionaries of Charity.
Bishop of Pittsburgh David A. Zubik spoke of the bishop-elect’s “deep faith and leadership” in a statement released today. He noted that Msgr. Hebda will make an extraordinary bishop due to a number of qualities he possesses: “his self-effacing nature, his capacity to find the good in everyone he meets, his cheerful helpfulness.
“We are excited in knowing that the Diocese of Gaylord is blessed to have such an exceptional servant of Christ,” he said.
The bishop will serve 71,700 Catholics and 69 priests in the Diocese of Gaylord.