Miami, Fla., Feb 20, 2014 / 11:43 am
Pope Francis has appointed a new auxiliary bishop for Miami: Malta-born Monsignor Peter Baldacchino, an Archdiocese of Newark priest who has served for more than a decade as a missionary in the Caribbean.
Bishop Baldacchino voiced gratitude to the Pope for the Feb. 20 appointment, saying, "I look forward to serving the Archdiocese of Miami and to work with His Grace, Archbishop Thomas Wenski."
"Pray for me. I am praying for you," the bishop-designate said at a Feb. 20 press conference, which he addressed in English and in Spanish.
Miami's Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski praised the bishop-designate.
"As a priest he has worked not as a bureaucrat but as a pastor, not in ivory towers but in the trenches," the archbishop said. "Bishop-elect Baldacchino has in his priesthood lived out the vocation to be a 'missionary disciple' bringing God and therefore joy to the people he has been sent to serve."
The bishop-designate was born in Sliema, Malta, on Dec. 5, 1960. During philosophy studies at the University of Malta, he became interested in the Neocatechumenal Way, a catechetical apostolate dedicated to Catholic renewal. He then explored his vocation to the priesthood in Newark, N.J., the Archdiocese of Miami said.
He studied at Seton Hall University's Immaculate Conception Seminary and lived in community at the Neocatechumenal Way's Redemptoris Mater Missionary House of Formation in Kearny, N.J. He received a master's degree in divinity from Seton Hall University.
He was ordained a priest for the Newark archdiocese in 1996, after which he served as a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Ridgewood, N.J.
In 1999, he was assigned to the Our Lady of Divine Providence Mission in the Turks & Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. He served as chancellor of the independent mission and also served as pastor of Our Lady of Divine Providence Church on the island of Providenciales.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI named the priest a Chaplain to His Holiness, with the honorary title of Reverend Monsignor.
He is fluent in Maltese, Italian and English.
Archbishop Wenski noted that the bishop-designate's work in reaching out to Hispanic and Haitian immigrants has equipped him well to serve in the Archdiocese of Miami.
Bishop-designate Baldacchino will be the tenth auxiliary bishop to serve the Archdiocese of Miami and its only auxiliary bishop in active ministry.
The archdiocese has 1.3 million Catholics across three counties. The archdiocese's 108 parishes and missions celebrate Mass in 17 languages. The archdiocese has 57 Catholic schools.
Archbishop Wenski said he, Bishop-designate Baldacchino and the other clergy and faithful of the archdiocese wish to advance the "new evangelization" in south Florida.
"We wish to invite everyone to know Jesus Christ – for to be a Christian is not a burden but a gift," the archbishop said. "To have encountered Jesus Christ in his Church is the best thing that has ever happened to us. To share him with others is our joy. 'Where God is, there is joy.'"
Archbishop Wenski will ordain Bishop-designate Baldacchino to the episcopacy in March.