Catholics welcome Archbishop Byrnes to Guam

By Krystal Paco
November 28, 2016

[with video]

After decades of leadership under Archbishop Anthony Apuron, today marks a new chapter for the Archdiocese of Agana. Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes is on Guam and already getting to work meeting with the island's faithful.

Guam is a long way from his home in Detroit, Michigan. "When I saw the lights to the island, I said it's really there. I was excited," he shared with island media. "I'm happy to be here!"

On October 31, the Vatican appointed Bishop Michael J. Byrnes as coadjutor archbishop for the Archdiocese of Agana. Rather than wait until January when he's scheduled to make the permanent move to Guam, he touched-down on island early Monday morning for a three-week visit. "I just felt like it was important to come. If I'm going to be the guy, I want to meet you all. And also there's a sense of urgency just to know and we need to know each other. I don't want to be a mystery figure," he said.

The day was spent meeting with local clergy for a day of recollection followed by a meet and greet with the press where he expressed his vision for the local Catholic community.  "Guam has been Catholic for a long time right, and right now the radiance of the jewel of faith has been covered a little bit by the controversies. And so let's polish it up that it can shine as the jewel of faith that it has been for so many years," he offered.

Much of that tarnish was caused by his predecessor, Archbishop Apuron, who currently faces a canonical trial in Rome for allegations of child molestation. When asked about his predecessor, Guam's new bishop says they met just weeks ago in Baltimore. "He was very cordial. He said he was praying for me. Yeah, I suppose it was his blessing," he said.

Archbishop Byrnes says he has some experience cleaning house - specifically removing a priest from a parish due to allegations of misconduct - but also wants to focus his efforts on healing for the victims and hopes to meet with them during his visit.


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