Salt Lake City, Utah, Apr 27, 2015 / 10:56 am
On Monday, Pope Francis appointed Bishop John Wester, who has led the Diocese of Salt Lake City since 2007 and is known for speaking out on the importance of immigration reform, as Archbishop of Santa Fe.
"Bishop Wester will bring wonderful gifts to the people of the historic Archdiocese of Santa Fe. His Episcopal motto, Abide in Christ, reflects his pastoral heart that so graciously embraces others, with special concern for the multi-cultural dimension of the Catholic Church," the Salt Lake City diocese said in an April 27 statement.
"The bishop's commitment to social justice, especially care for the undocumented and the poor, is noteworthy, as is his ecumenical collaboration in Utah and beyond."
John Wester was born in San Francisco in 1950, and was ordained a priest of the San Francisco archdiocese in 1976, serving in parishes and as a teacher; chaplain; school administrator; secretary and master of ceremonies for the archbishop; and vicar for clergy.
He was then appointed an auxiliary bishop of the same archdiocese in 1998, serving as its vicar general. He was also apostolic administrator of the archdiocese during a 2005-2006 interim between archbishops.
In March 2007, he was installed as Bishop of Salt Lake City. The diocese stated that "while the Catholic people of Utah are honored to have their bishops selected as Archbishop of Santa Fe, they will be sad to see him leave and greatly appreciate his ministry over the past eight years. Under his leadership the Diocese of Salt Lake City has grown significantly."
His first pastoral letter as Bishop of Salt Lake City encouraged faithful observance of the seasons of Advent and Christmas, urging Catholics in Utah to celebrate each season in a fitting manner.
He chairs the US bishops' communications committee, and had previously chaired its committee on migration. While chair of the migration committee, Bishop Wester highlighted the importance of underlying economic issues and called "draconian" SB 1070, a 2010 Arizona law criminalizing undocumented immigrants.
Bishop Wester's Mass of Installation as Archbishop of Santa Fe will be said June 4 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
He succeeds Archbishop Michael Sheehan, 75, whose resignation was accepted today.
"Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan and the Priests, Deacons, Religious and Laity of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe welcome Archbishop-Elect John C. Wester with open arms and loving hearts," the Santa Fe archdiocese stated.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has more than 200 priests, serving a Catholic population of 314,000, and a total population of 1.4 million. Its suffragan dioceses are Gallup, Las Cruces, Phoenix, and Tucson.