Changing Bishops

If you live in the Diocese of Rochester in New York State, you probably have heard that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation for retirement of Bishop Matthew Clark and named Bishop Robert J. Cunningham of the Diocese of Syracuse as our Apostolic Administrator (click here to read more).

As Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Cunningham is not the bishop of Rochester but he is in charge of it and will remain so until our new bishop is named.  He also continues to be the Bishop of Syracuse.  So, he is running two dioceses and so we certainly offer prayers for guidance and strength for him.

There has been speculation by people for a while on who will be the next Bishop of Rochester (Bishop Clark turned 75 in July and thus required to submit his resignation for retirement).  I will not enter into any speculation here because I have no idea who the next bishop will be.  I don’t see any benefit in speculating.  Instead, I simply pray that all involved in the selection process be guided by the Holy Spirit so that the new bishop be the person God has called to be the bishop.  That is all I ask for in this matter.

I can tell you a little about the selection process.  Every few years and whenever a new list is needed, the bishops in a province are asked to submit names for consideration as bishop.  (A province is a geographic region lead by an Archbishop.  Our province happens to be the entire State of New York and is led by Cardinal Dolan.)

To be named bishop, the person must be already ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.  Each bishop can ask priests, deacons, religious, or general parishioners to suggest priests to be considered but the process is entirely confidential.  Then each bishop complies a list of those he wishes to nominate and shares it with the other bishops in the province.  Then, the bishops of the province assemble one list of names that is sent to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, DC who is the Pope’s official representative in the United States.  The Nuncio then researches the nominated priests and sends all the information to Rome for a decision.  Ultimately, it is the Pope’s decision.

Currently, the average time for a new bishop to be named after a bishop submits his resignation is eight to fourteen months but there is not set amount of time.  The appointment could come soon or it could be a while.

Until the appointment is made, I am praying for all involved in the process and invite you to do the same.


Fr. Jeff


  1. Thank you for all of e mail and your advice and teaching for us during -the last few years.

    I would also like to tell you that YOUR FIRST MASS AT SAINT MARY’S WAS FOR MY MOTHER’S FUNERAL.

    her name was AnnaBelle Semski.and our family was comforted by your presence and your message of hope and love that you presented that day for all of our family and friends.

    Please continue your teaching messages for all of us. I know that will continue to teach your
    new Church Family with GOD’S LOVE and ASSISTANCE.

  2. Mary Ellen,

    Thank you for your comment. I looked up your mother’s obituary and do remember it as my first funeral there. If I am not mistaken was not your husband involved in his own church.


    Fr. Jeff

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