May 12, 2010 // Uncategorized

Illinois priest named to succeed Bishop Higi in Lafayette, Ind

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. Timothy L. Doherty, 59, as bishop of Lafayette, Ind., and accepted the resignation of Bishop William L. Higi of Lafayette.

The appointment and resignation were announced in Washington May 12 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

A priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., Bishop-designate Doherty had been pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Dundee, Ill., and St. Mary Mission Church in Gilberts, Ill., since 2007 and diocesan ethicist for health care since 1995.

Bishop Higi, 76, had been bishop of Lafayette since 1984.

Bishop-designate Doherty’s episcopal ordination and installation is scheduled for July 15. Bishop Higi will serve as apostolic administrator until his successor is installed.

“Your new bishop is going to … have his own style. He’s going to be his own man, but it’s a great blessing for us to have a man with more energy, with a different vision, different experience of the church,” Bishop Higi said at a news conference attended by diocesan staff members as well as reporters.

“I couldn’t be happier with the choice. I am sure as you get to know him he’ll go down in history as beginning a new era that will enrich our church and enrich our community, both Catholic and non-Catholic,” he added.

Bishop-designate Doherty described his appointment as somewhat overwhelming. “I am humbled by the call of our Holy Father,” he said. Being a bishop is part “of my priesthood but was not anticipated,” he said, adding he felt “verklempt,” or choked with emotion. “It’s all new.”

“I am privileged to be with you, and besides acknowledging the common faith that draws us all here … our discipleship with Christ, I’m simply pledging myself to you, and I ask your prayers and help,” he said. “I have no grand plan or vision at this point. Things have happened rather quickly for me.”

Timothy L. Doherty was born in Rockford Sept. 29, 1950. After graduating from what is now St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, in 1972, he attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome, finishing his studies in 1976. He was ordained for his home diocese that year.

He has a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Lateran University’s Accademia Alfonsiana and a doctorate in Christian ethics from Loyola University Chicago.

After his ordination, he was an associate pastor at St. Peter Cathedral in Rockford, chairman of religious studies at Boylan Central Catholic High School, also in Rockford, and assistant principal at Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock, Ill. His other assignments have included parochial administrator at St. James Parish in Lee, Ill., and pastor of St. Mary Parish in Byron, Ill.

Bishop Higi, a native of Anderson, Ind., was ordained a priest for the Lafayette Diocese in 1959. He served as an associate pastor, secretary to the bishop, vice chancellor, chancellor and vicar general. While he was vicar general, he was elected administrator of the diocese after the death of his predecessor, Bishop George Fulcher, in 1984, then was named its bishop.

“I’m appreciative to be here to be shepherd to the priests, laypeople, to the religious, to all the Catholic ministries of the diocese but to be of some service to all of the baptized,” Bishop-designate Doherty said.

Bishop Higi acknowledged that getting used to a new diocese will be a time of transition for his successor. He noted that the newly named bishop is coming to Lafayette from a much larger diocese: Rockford has a Catholic population about 27 percent, while in his new diocese, Catholics make up 8 percent of the total population.

“When a man is called to the episcopacy he’s uprooted from his support system and it’s akin, only more acute, (to) when a pastor is reassigned — you have a support system, you’re close to people,” Bishop Higi said. “It’s your family, and to suddenly get a phone call … that you have to transport yourself to a new environment, different culture, history, that is challenging. … So I know that your prayers will all be for our new bishop that the transition will be a good one.”

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