WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father David J. Bonnar, pastor of St. Aidan Parish in Wexford, Pa., to be bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.
He succeeds Bishop George V. Murry, who died June 5 after a two-year battle with leukemia. He was 71.
Bishop-designate Bonnar, 58, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, also is currently priest editor of The Priest magazine, published by Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic publisher based in Huntington, Ind.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment Nov. 17 in Washington.
Bishop-designate Bonnar’s episcopal ordination and installation as Youngstown’s sixth bishop will be Jan. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Columba in Youngstown.
“There is no question in my mind that Father Bonnar is most qualified to take on his new responsibilities,” Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik said in a statement. “For the vast majority of his 32 years as a priest, Father Bonnar has served in parish ministry. The faithful of Youngstown can look forward to very strong pastoral leadership on the part of their new bishop.”
He noted that a number of Pittsburgh priests have been called to serve as bishops over the years, which he said was “a recognition of how many of our priests are strong leaders and heartfelt pastors.”
They include him, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas.
Bishop Zubik said Bishop-designate Bonnar “is zealous in responding to the spiritual needs of his people — truly a sign of a good shepherd.”
“I am overwhelmed by the trust and confidence the Holy Father has placed in me in appointing me the bishop of Youngstown,” Bishop-designate Bonnar said in a statement.
He called it “humbling to follow the long line” of Pittsburgh diocesan priests “who have been called to shepherd and serve the church beyond our diocese.”
The Diocese of Youngstown has been without a bishop since the death of Bishop Murry. One of the nation’s African American Catholic bishops and a Jesuit, he was named the fifth bishop of Youngstown by Pope Benedict in 2007.
During his tenure, he served in several capacities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including as secretary and chairman of a number of USCCB committees, including Catholic education, religious liberty and the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
In April 2018, Bishop Murry was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He received chemotherapy treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. On Sept. 4, 2018, he returned to part-time work at the diocese. After being in remission, Bishop Murry suffered a relapse in April 2020.
He submitted his resignation to the pope May 26. He was admitted to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York for treatment a few days before his June 5 death.
The diocese’s college of consultors elected Msgr. Robert Siffrin to be diocesan administrator until a new bishop was named to succeed Bishop Murry. The priest will continue to serve in that capacity until Youngstown’s new bishop is installed.