Pope Benedict XVI oversaw changes to the U.S. episcopate on Dec. 1, including resignations in New Jersey and Missouri and two auxiliary bishops' appointments, all on the same day that the Archdiocese of Seattle celebrated its new archbishop's installation.
Having reached the age of 75, Bishop John M. Smith of Trenton, N.J. will pass on his position to the Bishop David M. O'Connell, who was appointed as a coadjutor.
Bishop O'Connell previously served as the President of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. During his time there, he strongly advocated the implementation of Pope John Paul II's guidelines for Catholic education in the Apostolic Constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.”
Pope Benedict also accepted the resignation of St. Louis' Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Hermann, who had submitted his resignation at age 75, according to Vatican protocol.
The outgoing auxiliary bishop expressed gratitude for the eight years he had been able to serve the St. Louis Archdiocese, saying he hoped to “re-invest in the priestly ministry of pastoral care for souls” during his retirement.
Monsignor Edward M. Rice, currently among the clergy of the St. Louis archdiocese, will succeed the outgoing Bishop Hermann. He currently serves as the archdiocese's director of vocations to the priesthood. The St. Louis native will be consecrated as a bishop on January 13, 2011.
Meanwhile, the new head of the Archdiocese of Seattle, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, is celebrating his installation Mass on Dec. 1 at St. James Cathedral. Archbishop Sartain, 58, previously served as the Bishop of Joliet in Illinois. He replaces Archbishop Alex. J. Brunett, who retired last year at age 75.