.- The Press Office of the Holy See announced Monday morning that Pope Benedict XVI has named a new Bishop for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah. Bishop John Charles Wester, who is currently serving as an Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco will take the reigns of the Utah diocese. The diocese has been without a bishop for over a year.
The 56 year-old Bishop Wester was born in San Francisco and ordained a priest for the Archdiocese in 1976. After serving in various assignments around the diocese, including stints as a pastor and school administrator, Wester was appointed an Auxiliary Bishop in 1998.
Prior to Wester’s appointment, the previous Bishop of Salt Lake City was George Niederauer, the current Archbishop of San Francisco.
Bishop Wester said during a press conference today that he is filled with “gratitude and awe” at the prospect of his new ministry.
Noting his need to learn about the diocese, Wester said, “as your bishop, my first obligation is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ ‘in season and out of season.’ I can only do this effectively if I know you well and have a firm grasp of your priorities, concerns, dreams and plans. In a particular way, I wish to learn from our priests, my most important collaborators in my ministry as your bishop.”
“With (the priests),” he said, “I hope to continue the excellent work of Archbishop Niederauer in promoting beautiful liturgies, sound faith education programs, loving and compassionate service to the poor, prudent stewardship of our resources, and parishes that flourish throughout the diocese.”
The newly appointed bishop then briefly addressed the growing Hispanic population of the diocese in Spanish.
He also noted the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has Salt Lake City as its headquarters. “I look forward to building on the strong ties that the Archbishop (Niederauer) and former bishops, as well as the catholic community, have developed over the years with our brothers and sisters,” the bishop said.
In greeting Bishop Wester, Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald, Diocesan Administrator of the Salt Lake City said, “we welcome you with the warm embrace of traditional Utah hospitality and pledge to you our loyal support.”
The Diocese of Salt Lake City which encompasses the entire state of Utah has approximately 180,000 Catholics, who are served by 85 priests, 70 permanent deacons, and 86 religious.