.- Philadelphia’s faithful received news this morning that Pope Benedict has appointed the judicial vicar of their diocese, Bishop-elect Michael J. Fitzgerald, to be their new auxiliary bishop.
The announcement of Bishop-elect Fitzgerald's appointment was made by Cardinal Justin Rigali at a 10 a.m. news conference in Philadelphia. The cardinal said of the bishop-elect, “He is an exemplary priest with a great love for the Church. I am grateful for his constant efforts to promote vocations to the diocesan priesthood. For 14 years he has served as Chaplain to the Serra Club of Philadelphia, which promotes priestly vocations.”
Bishop-elect Fitzgerald also commented on his own appointment, saying, “In accepting this nomination I am conscious of the great responsibility that has been entrusted to me but I am even more aware of the providence of Almighty God in calling me to the priesthood and sustaining me happily in the priesthood these past thirty years. It is in that Providence that I continue to place my trust as I answer a new call of the Church to serve the People of God as a bishop.”
Bishop-elect Michael Fitzgerald was ordained a priest in 1980, and served as a parochial vicar after his ordination. In 1989, and then again in 1991, he received degrees in canon law from Catholic University in America and Rome’s Gregorian University, respectively.
He was named a monsignor in 2003, and served as vice rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary from 2004-2007. Bishop-elect Fitzgerald has served as the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia since 2007. He will replace Auxiliary Bishop Joseph McFadden, who has been appointed to the diocese of Harrisburg.
The appointment of Msgr. Fitzgerald as Auxiliary Bishop is the second such appointment to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia this month. On June 8, 2010, Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Robert Maginnis and named Msgr. John McIntyre to be his replacement.
Cardinal Rigali will ordain both Bishop-elect McIntyre and Bishop-elect Fitzgerald to the episcopacy on the same day, August 6, 2010, the Solemnity of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. The ordination will take place at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is headed by Cardinal Justin Rigali and is also served by four auxiliary bishops. Within the boundaries of the archdiocese reside 1,458,430 Catholics out of a population of 3.88 million. The archdiocese also has 999 priests, 239 permanent deacons and 3,370 members of religious orders.