.- Father David J. Walkowiak, a priest of the Cleveland diocese, was appointed Bishop of Grand Rapids, Mich., on April 18 by Pope Francis.
“I am grateful to Pope Francis for entrusting me with this apostolic office as bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids,” said Bishop-designate Walkowiak.
“In accepting this appointment I renew my trust in the Lord who asks me to set out again on a new mission. I thank God for providing me with the opportunity to serve this local church, which I pray will be a blessing to its people.”
Bishop-designate Walkowiak will be consecrated a bishop June 18, becoming the 12th bishop of Grand Rapids. The diocese is located in western Michigan, and is home to 182,000 Catholics in 82 parishes. In 2006, nearly 13 percent of the total population of the diocese was Catholic.
He succeeds Bishop Walter Hurley, who has been the shepherd of Grand Rapids since 2005. Beginning today, Bishop Hurley serves as apostolic administrator of the diocese until Bishop-designate Walkowiak's installation on June 18 at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.
Bishop Hurley turned 75, which is the mandatory retirement age for bishops, last May. He submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict, which has now been accepted by Pope Francis.
Bishop Hurley announced that he will continue to live in the diocese, assisting Bishop-designate Walkowiak “in our parishes and the diocese as called upon to serve.”
“Catholics in the Diocese of Grand Rapids are fortunate to have someone with Bishop-designate Walkowiak’s experience to lead the faithful of West Michigan into the future,” Bishop Hurley said.
“Bishop-designate Walkowiak’s education, service to the Church and pastoral ministry to the people of the Diocese of Cleveland will be of great benefit in this new role to which he has been called.”
The incoming bishop was raised in Ohio and was ordained a priest for the Cleveland diocese in 1979. He has served in parishes and is currently a pastor.
He received a doctorate in canon law from Catholic University of America, and has worked in the diocesan chancery, as an associate judge of the appellate tribunal for the Cincinnati province. He has also been on the faculty of Saint Mary Seminary in Wickliffe.
Pope Francis also appointed a bishop to a Croatian archdiocese today.
In the U.S., there are currently seven vacant dioceses, as well as an Eastern Catholic eparchy.