WILMINGTON – Pope Francis this morning appointed the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, naming Msgr. William E. Koenig, a longtime pastor and administrator of the Diocese of Rockville Centre (N.Y.).
The appointment was announced in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-elect Koenig, 64, will be ordained a bishop July 13 and installed to succeed Bishop W. Francis Malooly, who more than two years ago turned 75, the age at which bishops are required to submit their resignation to the pope. Bishop Malooly, 77, is a native of Baltimore and has served as leader of the Catholic diocese in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore since 2008. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 2020.
“I am humbled by the Holy Father’s decision to appoint me as the 10th Bishop of the vibrant and grace-filled Diocese of Wilmington,” Bishop-elect Koenig said. “I cannot wait to meet the faithful of the Diocese.”
“We are very fortunate to have Bishop-elect Koenig as the next leader of the Catholic community of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” Bishop Malooly said. “God has richly blessed us and we give thanks to God for this wonderful gift.”
Bishop-elect Koenig (pronounced Kay-nig) will be introduced this morning at a 10:30 news conference that will be livestreamed on the diocese YouTube channel from the Cathedral of St. Peter. He will concelebrate a livestreamed Mass from the cathedral with Bishop Malooly at 12:10 p.m.
The bishop-elect will be ordained to the Order of Bishop and installed as the Bishop of Wilmington at a special Mass on July 13 at St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington.
The bishop-elect comes from a place with some familiarity to Catholics in the Diocese of Wilmington. Bishop John O. Barres has been the leader of the Diocese of Rockville Centre since December 2016. Bishop Barres began his priesthood in the Diocese of Wilmington, working in various pastoral and administrative roles before being appointed bishop of the Diocese of Allentown (Pa.) in 2009 and later moving to Rockville Centre.
Bishop-elect Koenig has been one of the leaders of the Rockville Centre church under Bishop Barres, serving as rector of St. Agnes Cathedral in the diocese. His service as rector concluded in 2020 when he was appointed vicar for clergy for the diocese. Rockville Center is the eighth largest diocese in the United States.
The bishop-elect was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John R. McGann at St. Agnes Cathedral on May 14, 1983. His first assignment as a priest was to the parish of St. Edward the Confessor in Syosset, N.Y. After five years at St. Edward’s, he served for one year in the Parish of St. James in Setauket where he also assisted in the campus ministry program at State University of Stony Brook.
In 1989, he was appointed the diocesan director of vocations with residence at the cathedral residence of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, N.Y. As a resident, he assisted the staff of four other priests in helping to form seminarians from the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre for the priesthood as they completed college or pre-theology requirements. In 1990, Bishop-elect Koenig was assigned as diocesan director of ministry to priests while continuing to serve as director of vocations. Upon completion of his assignment in 1996 as directors of vocations and ministry to priests, Bishop-elect Koenig served from 1996 to 2000 as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. In 2000, he was appointed pastor of St. William the Abbot in Seaford, N.Y., where he continued to serve until 2009. During his term as pastor at St. William, Bishop-elect Koenig in 2007 was named Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI. In 2009, he was appointed the rector of St. Agnes Cathedral.
Born Aug. 17, 1956 in Queens, N.Y., Bishop-elect Koenig grew up in East Meadow, N.Y., where he and his family were parishioners of St. Raphael’s Church. He attended St. Raphael’s Elementary School, St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary in Uniondale, N.Y., Cathedral College in Douglaston, N.Y. and the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y. After ordination, he also attended Fordham University from which he received a master of social work degree.
He is the son of the late Alfred and Mary Koenig. He has two brothers, Joseph and Michael, and a sister-in-law, Joan, who is married to Michael. He also has six nephews and nieces.
In addition to his diocesan assignments, the bishop-elect has served in a number of roles and boards in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He has been the dean of both the Seaford and Rockville Centre deaneries. He has been a member of the diocesan Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors. He has represented the diocese in the Priests Council of New York State and has been the moderator of CYO of Long Island and is a board member of Unitas, which serves as an investment corporation for parishes and diocesan entities.
Two years ago, after being named as priest personnel advisor to Bishop Barres, the bishop described Msgr. Koenig as “one of our beloved and deeply experienced pastors.”
“Our priests of every age naturally open up to him and trust him,” Bishop Barres told Long Island Catholic, the magazine of the diocese. “His inner peace, wisdom, understanding, experience and counsel will be invaluable in supporting our priests and our parishes, and discerning how our priests can grow in holiness and mission as they serve the great parishes of Long Island in challenging times.”
“One of the things I just love about Msgr. Koenig,” Bishop Barres said in a 2019 interview, “is he illustrates that when a Catholic priest is praying deeply, evangelizing deeply, serving the people of God deeply, there is an interior peace that radiates through every dimension of their being … Msgr. Koenig is a great evangelizer, but that fundamental steadiness and peace that radiates from him is evangelizing in itself.”
“The other thing I love is he has the trust of our priests. They come to him to bounce things off of him naturally.”