New bishop expects lay people to continue their vital role in the Church

.- The new bishop of the Diocese of Toledo said he expects lay people to continue to have a vital role in his diocesan Church. Bishop Leonard Paul Blair added that one of his first missions will be to meet with Church leaders and priests.

Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Blair Oct. 7 to succeed Bishop James Hoffman, who died of cancer at age 70 in February.

According to an Associated Press report, the 53-year-old bishop  promised to be a "teacher, a priest and shepherd" for the Church of Toledo.

Bishop Blair was born in Detroit in 1949. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1976. He completed a bachelor of arts in History from Sacred Heart Seminary College in Detroit, and a bachelor of sacred theology, as well as a licentiate in theology with a specialization in patristics and the history of theology, from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He later completed a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

He served as associate pastor at three parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit and, for three years, served as Secretary to Edmund Cardinal Szoka and as a staff member of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See at the Vatican.

Over the years, he also served as the vicar-general, chancellor and ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Detroit and as dean of studies and assistant professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary College. He was named an auxiliary bishop of Detroit and ordained a bishop in 1999.

The Diocese of Toledo has 330,000 Catholics. He will be the diocese's seventh bishop.

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