Bishop Hebda Named Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark

Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord
September 24, 2013

His Holiness Pope Francis has named the Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda, shepherd of the Diocese of Gaylord for the past four years, the Coadjutor Archbishop for the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. The Vatican made the announcement on the September 24, 2013 and it was shared in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The appointment is effective immediately. As coadjutor, Archbishop Hebda will assist the current Metropolitan Archbishop John J. Myers in the administration of the archdiocese and will automatically succeed Archbishop Myers upon his retirement, transfer or death.

“Today’s news that the Holy Father has named me the Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark brings with it the sadness of having to leave the Diocese of Gaylord,” Archbishop Hebda penned in a letter upon being informed of the appointment. “I have come to consider this local Church my home and will find it difficult to leave so many faith-filled parishes, schools and friends. Anything that I know about being a bishop I learned from you—and for that I will be always thankful.

Archbishop Hebda said he has been blessed here, finding the Church of Gaylord a wonderful diocese with “gifted clergy, generous deacons, dedicated Religious women, stellar schools, a tradition of prayerful liturgy, a rich history of cultivating lay leadership, and an exemplary commitment to Christian charity and social justice. What wasn’t to love? I would have been happy to spend the rest of my days here laboring in the vineyard at your side,” he added.

“In his six months as Successor of Peter, Pope Francis has captured the attention of the world by his humility and his deep pastoral concern for his flock,” Archbishop Hebda told the Faithful of Gaylord. “I am confident that he will soon bless the Diocese of Gaylord with precisely the Shepherd that you need.

“As I take up my responsibilities in Newark, I would ask that you occasionally remember to pray that I might joyfully serve the Lord in that radically different setting. You can be sure that you will always be remembered in mine,” he concluded.

The Rev. Msgr. Francis Murphy, who has served as Vicar General of the diocese since 2001 said he wasn’t shocked by the announcement. “We have been expecting something like this since he arrived here. He has a lot of obvious talent and we knew that one day he would be called upon to serve the greater church,” Msgr. Murphy said. “We were happy to have him for as long as we did.

“It’s going to hurt me personally,” Msgr. Murphy added. “We’ve become very close. We spoke several times a week. He’s like a brother to me – a younger brother in a lot of ways.”

Msgr. Murphy has served in parishes in the northern Lower Michigan for the past 47 years and not only saw the establishment of the Diocese of Gaylord, but the appointment of each of its four bishops as well.

With Archbishop Hebda’s new appointment, the Diocese of Gaylord becomes the 11th diocese in the United States to be currently sede vacante, a vacant see. In the next few days, Msgr. Murphy will call together the diocesan College of Consultors to meet in order to elect a diocesan administrator who will serve the Diocese of Gaylord until the appointment of the fifth Bishop of Gaylord is made by the pope.

Archbishop Hebda, 54, is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980 from Harvard University in Government (International Affairs) followed by a juris doctor degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1983. He was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and practiced at a law firm in Pittsburgh, Reed Smith Shaw & McClay.

In 1984, Bishop Hebda enrolled at St. Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh, ultimately completing his theological studies at North American College in Rome, where he was assigned in 1985. He earned his STB from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1988 and was ordained to the priesthood in Pittsburgh on July 1, 1989. He subsequently received a licentiate in canon law from the Gregorian in 1990.

Returning home to the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Hebda served in a variety of assignments, including parish ministry, tribunal work, and campus ministry. He was appointed in 1996 to work at the Holy See at the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Vatican office responsible for the interpretation of the Church’s laws, especially the Code of Canon Law. In 2003, he became the Undersecretary of the Council.

He was named the Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, by Pope Benedict XVI in October of 2009.

Bishop Hebda has served as a member of the USCCB’s Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and presently serves on the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. He also serves as the Episcopal Liaison for the National Catholic Student Coalition. By Vatican appointment, he is a member of the Executive Board of Caritas Internationalis and a Consultor for the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

When it was established in 1971, Gaylord was, by population, the smallest see city in the United States. The Archdiocese of Newark, established in 1853, is currently geographically the smallest diocese in the United States. In contrast to the Diocese of Gaylord’s 11,171 square miles and 21 counties, the four counties making up the Archdiocese of Newark combine for a total of only 511 square miles, yet is home to more than 3 million people, half of them Catholics. The Archdiocese of Newark includes 218 parishes with 98 elementary and high schools, two universities and two colleges. Archbishop Hebda will help lead the 724 Archdiocesan priests, 237 Religious and Adjunct priests, 184 deacons and 897 Religious Sisters and Brothers ministering in the Archdiocese where Mass is celebrated in close to two dozen different languages each week, reflecting the diversity of the population of the Archdiocese of Newark.


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