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Pope Francis names Auxiliary Bishop Ronald Hicks of Chicago to head Diocese of Joliet

Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Ronald A. Hicks of Chicago to head the Diocese of Joliet, Ill., July 17, 2020. He is pictured here Nov. 13, 2018, at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Ronald A. Hicks of Chicago to head the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois.

Bishop Hicks, 52, is vicar general of the Chicago Archdiocese and succeeds Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, who retired in May. He was named an auxiliary bishop for Chicago July 3, 2018, and ordained a bishop Sept. 17, 2018.

The appointment was announced July 17 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Hicks will be installed as the sixth bishop of Joliet at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus Sept. 29.

“We congratulate Bishop Hicks on his appointment to the diocese of Joliet,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago. “I will personally miss him as he has served as my vicar general these past six years with competence and distinction. The people of Joliet are getting a leader who is strong, loving and wise, and we look forward to working with him in the years ahead in the Illinois Catholic Conference.”

Bishop Richard E. Pates, apostolic administrator of the Joliet Diocese, said: “The Diocese of Joliet is most grateful to Pope Francis for the appointment of Bishop Ronald Hicks as its sixth bishop.”

He added: “The bishop owns a reputation for pastoral leadership and is totally committed to the ongoing renewal of the Catholic Church. He is a worthy successor to Bishop Conlon and his predecessors.”

Bishop Pates, the retired bishop of Des Moines, Iowa, has been serving as apostolic administrator since the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Conlon for health reasons. At 71, Bishop Conlon is four years younger than the age at which bishops must turn in their resignation to the pope. Before his retirement, he was on a four-month medical leave of absence.

The Diocese of Joliet posted a video on its website of Bishop Hicks talking with Bishop Pates about his appointment. He thanked Bishop Pates his warm welcome. “From the moment the news was announced, you’ve been nothing but cordial and good to me.”

When Archbishop Pierre called him about his new appointment some days ago, Bishop Hicks said, he told the nuncio “yes” without hesitation. The archbishop asked if he knew where Joliet is.

“I said: ‘Yes, I do know where Joliet is.’ I am just humbled and delighted and excited to be named here,” Bishop Hicks said. “What a vibrant diocese — so many wonderful things going on in the name of the Lord — and to be a part of this and to be assigned here, what a beautiful call and gift.”

Ronald Aldon Hicks was born Aug. 4, 1967, in the Chicago suburb of Harvey, Illinois, and grew up in South Holland, Illinois, another Chicago suburb, where he attended St. Jude the Apostle Parish and Grade School.

He graduated from Quigley Seminary South in 1985. He received his bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Niles College of Loyola University Chicago in 1989 and earned his master of divinity degree in 1994 and his doctor of ministry degree in 2003 from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago May 21, 1994. Then-Father Hicks served as an associate pastor at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Chicago from 1994 to 1996 and then at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Orland Hills, Illinois, from 1996 to 1999.

From 1999 to 2005, he lived and ministered at St. Joseph College Seminary as the dean of formation.

In 2005, with permission from Cardinal Francis E. George, he moved to El Salvador to begin his five-year term as regional director of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos in Central America — a ministry dedicated to caring for more than 3,400 orphaned and abandoned children in Latin America and the Caribbean.

When he returned to the Chicago Archdiocese, he served as the dean of formation at Mundelein Seminary while assisting with weekend Masses at St. Jerome Parish in Chicago. He was appointed vicar general by Cardinal Cupich in 2015. Since then, he has celebrated Mass in a different archdiocesan parish each weekend.

The Joliet Diocese covers 4,218 square miles over seven counties. It has a total population of has a total population of just over 1.9 million; 655,051, or about 34.4% are Catholic. They are served by 120 parishes and 55 schools.