.- Pope Francis on Tuesday named Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Philadelphia to be the next bishop of Ohio’s Diocese of Toledo.
“I express my profound gratitude to Pope Francis for his confidence and trust in appointing me the shepherd of the Lord’s flock here in northwest Ohio,” Bishop Thomas said at an Aug. 26 press conference in Toledo. “Aware that I am not worthy of the office, I trust in God’s Holy Will as expressed through the Successor of Peter and in the grace and mercy of Jesus the Good Shepherd.”
“What is important is not so much my name, but who I am for you, a father, brother, and friend in the faith,” the bishop said.
He added: “it is my fervent hope and prayer that the weak and the vulnerable, the poor and the needy, indeed all of us, might experience more deeply the love and mercy of Christ.”
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia praised the appointment, saying that the Toledo Diocese “has been given a true gift in Bishop Thomas.”
“The appointment being announced today demonstrates the confidence our Holy Father has in Bishop Thomas' pastoral and administrative skills,” Archbishop Chaput said in a statement. “I have worked with him closely since my arrival in Philadelphia nearly three years ago and have witnessed his wisdom, intelligence, personal warmth and keen affection for the people of God.”
“I know he will serve them joyfully as a faithful shepherd and spiritual father.”
Bishop Thomas was born June 11, 1959 in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia.
He was ordained to the priesthood for the Philadelphia archdiocese in 1985 by Cardinal John Krol. He was named an auxiliary bishop in 2006. He served as a parochial vicar and a pastor at several Pennsylvania parishes, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reports.
The bishop holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He served in the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican and was adjunct spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College Seminary in Rome.
During the press conference, Bishop Thomas said that he looked forward to participating in the life of the diocese.
“Most of all, I look forward, as your bishop, to preaching the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist, to teach and defend our Catholic faith, to lead and strengthen you so that together we might be more vibrant and courageous disciples of the Lord.”
Bishop Thomas will be the eighth Bishop of Toledo. He succeeds Leonard P. Blair, who was named Archbishop of Hartford, Conn. in October 2013.
Archbishop Blair said he was “very pleased” to hear of Bishop Thomas’ appointment.
“He is a man of wide pastoral experience, deeply committed to Christ and the Church. The clergy and people of Toledo will be well served by the many gifts Bishop Thomas brings as their new shepherd,” the archbishop said in a statement.
Bishop Thomas voiced his prayers for the people of the diocese and said he prayed that he will be “a faithful, humble, holy and ardent bishop for Toledo.”
The Diocese of Toledo has about 320,000 Catholics in a population of over 1.4 million.