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National Shrine Rector Named West Virginia Bishop

.- Pope John Paul II has named Msgr. Michael J. Bransfield, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston.

Bishop-elect Bransfield, 61, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia May 15, 1971 by the late John Cardinal Krol.

A Philadelphia native, the bishop-elect was educated in the Philadelphia archdiocesan school system and conducted his studies for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, Pa., where he received a master’s degree in divinity. He later earned a master’s degree in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The bishop-elect was assigned to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as Director of Liturgy in 1980 and was named its Director of Finance in 1982.  He became the National Shrine’s tenth executive director in 1986.

Pope John Paul II named Bishop-elect Bransfield a Prelate of Honor in 1987.  He was made the Shrine’s first rector in 1990 when the Pope designated the Shrine a Basilica.

Bishop-elect Bransfield will become the eighth bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, a diocese that encompasses the state of West Virginia, succeeding Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt.  His episcopal ordination and installation is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2005, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter.

In a message posted at the National Shrine's website, Bishop-elect Bransfield said: “I am honored and deeply grateful to the Holy Father for entrusting me with the pastoral care of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.”  

“I look forward to serving the faithful of West Virginia, and to growing with them in holiness and grace.  I ask their prayers for me and pledge my fervent prayers for them. Wheeling-Charleston is a vast diocese with a long and noble history.  I look forward to discovering more about it and to becoming a part of the fabric of its community,” he said.


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