Pope sends Diocese of Syracuse a New York native bishop

Bishop Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop Robert J. Cunningham

.- The Diocese of Syracuse in New York received the news this morning that it has a new shepherd—Bishop Robert J. Cunningham. The Buffalo-born bishop will move from the Diocese of Ogdensburg in upstate New York to serve the faithful in his new diocese.

Pope Benedict's appointment of Bishop Cunningham to lead the Diocese of Syracuse comes almost two years after Bishop James Moynihan submitted his resignation upon reaching the age of 75. Until Bishop Cunningham is installed on May 26 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, Bishop Moynihan will continue to oversee the diocese.

Bishop Cunningham was born in Buffalo, New York to Cecil and Grace Cunningham on June 18, 1943.

He attended college and seminary at St. John Vianney Seminary, East Aurora, where he earned both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees. In 1978 he received a Licentiate Degree in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America.

Bishop Cunningham was ordained to the priesthood by Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin on May 24, 1969 at St. Joseph New Cathedral in Buffalo. His first assignment was associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Kenmore. In 1972 he became the assistant pastor at his home parish of St. John the Baptist, Kenmore.

Bishop Cunningham held numerous positions of leadership within the Diocese of Buffalo, including serving as a marriage tribunal judge, the chancellor and the vicar general. His faithful service earned him the title of Monsignor from Pope John Paul II in 1984.

On March 9, 2004 John Paul II appointed Msgr. Robert J. Cunningham as the 13th Bishop of Ogdensburg. Bishop Cunningham was ordained and installed as the Bishop of Ogdensburg on May 18, 2004 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg.

Speaking at a press conference this morning in Syracuse, Bishop Cunningham emphasized that he comes to his new flock primarily as a "shepherd of souls."

"Sent by Pope Benedict XVI, I come to teach and preach the Word of God; to love you with wholehearted affection and to serve your needs especially as a minister of the Eucharist and reconciliation."

The bishop-designate added that he hopes to be "a source of unity for the diocese."

As the Bishop of Syracuse, he will lead over 250,000 Catholics in a seven-county area that covers 5,479 square miles.

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