Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Pope's foot soldier

Well, after only two years of guessing and waiting, the Diocese of Youngstown finally has a new Bishop. Catholics in the area had all but given up, believing that the Vatican had forgotten them. Not so I guess. Considering that the previous bishop, Tom Tobin, was sent to Rhode Island the week Pope John Paul II died, one could imagine that Pope Bendict XVI was a little busy getting the house in order to worry about Youngstown. Regardless, one has apparently been named.

The winner? George V. Murry, SJ. According to his biography on the website of the National Black Catholic Congress, Murry was born in Camden, New Jersey, in 1948. After graduating from Catholic Elementary and High School, he attended St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, and St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1972, he entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and was ordained to the priesthood in 1979.

Bishop Murry holds a Masters of Divinity Degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and a Masters of Philosphy and Ph.D. in American Cultural History from The George Washington University, Washington, DC. Bishop Murry has served as a University Professor, President of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC, and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Detroit before being appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago by Pope Paul II in 1995. He was appointed Bishop of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, July 1999.

Interesting to see a Jesuit come to Youngstown. This has not been a traditional stronghold area for the Jesuits, who tend to maintain communities in big cities and near their schools. The nearest Jesuit communities are in Cuyahoga Falls at Walsh Jesuit High School and in Cleveland, at my alma mater, John Carroll University.

Bishop Murry has a large and difficult task ahead of him. He must lead a congregation that has dwindled in numbers, closed schools and lost priests to retirement. These problems are Church-wide and not unique to Youngstown, but still they exist and must be tackled. A failing Church in Youngstown means a failing City. With Youngstown on the rebound, there is no reason the Church can't keep pace.

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