Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, and appointed as his successor Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Bishop Barres, 56, has headed the Diocese of Allentown since 2009. Bishop Murphy, who has been Rockville Centre’s bishop since 2001, is 76. Canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope when they turn 75.
The 1,200-square-mile Rockville Centre Diocese has a total population of over 2.9 million people, of whom 50 percent, or 1.45 million are Catholic.
The changes were announced Dec. 9 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Barres’ Mass of installation will be celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre Jan. 31. Until that time, Bishop Murphy will serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese.
In Wilmington, Bishop Malooly issued the following statement:
“We are very pleased and proud to learn that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has appointed Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown.
“Bishop Barres was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington in 1989, and served the people of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore faithfully for 20 years as a parish priest, vice-chancellor, and chancellor. He was my mentor in my first year as bishop of Wilmington and a wonderful companion and example to me of a dedicated priest and servant.
“God has truly blessed the Diocese of Rockville Centre with a wonderfully talented servant-shepherd. I have no doubt that the people of Long Island, like the people of Allentown and Wilmington, will come to love this holy and cheerful man. We congratulate the clergy, religious, and laity of Rockville Centre, as Bishop Barres brings his dedication and enthusiam to Long Island.
“The faithful of the Diocese of Wilmington join me in offering our heartfelt congratulations to Bishop Barres on the occasion of this appointment. We pledge our continued prayers and affection.”
“It is my deep conviction that he will be a bishop for all of us without exception,” Bishop Murphy said of his successor in a statement. “He has shared with me his love of youth and his care for the elderly. He has a keen sense of parish life and has a special expertise in education. He has a deep love for the poor.”
Bishop Barres will support Catholic Charities, parish outreach as well as Catholic hospitals, he added.
Bishop Murphy also said Rockville Centre’s new bishop “will be a good neighbor to our brothers and sisters” in other Christian denominations as well as members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, and the many civic and political leaders with whom the church works “in building up Long Island for future generations.”
He described Bishop Barres as “a man of prayer” above all.
Born in Larchmont, New York, Sept. 20, 1960, Bishop Barres was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., Oct. 21, 1989. On May 27, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Allentown. He was installed as that diocese’s fourth bishop July 30, 2009.
During his tenure in Allentown, he has initiated a pastoral planning process for parishes across the Diocese of Allentown. He has called on every parish to establish a parish council and has made support for Catholic schools a priority; enhanced evangelization and pastoral ministries; and encouraged use of social media to spread the Gospel and evangelize.
On the national level, he is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis and is the USCCB’s episcopal liaison to the Pontifical Mission Societies.
He has a bachelor of sacred theology and a licentiate in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington; he received his seminary formation at the university’s Theological College.
He has a licentiate in canon law and a doctor of sacred theology degree from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He has a bachelor of art’s degree in English literature from Princeton University and a master’s in business administration, focusing on management, from New York University’s School of Business Administration in 1984.
After his priestly ordination, he had assignments as associate pastor at two Delaware parishes, then went to Rome for further studies. After his return to the Wilmington diocese in 1999, he served as vice chancellor, then chancellor.
A native of Boston, Bishop Murphy was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston Dec. 16, 1964. He was named a Boston auxiliary bishop in 1995. St. John Paul II appointed him to Rockville Centre June 26, 2001.