NEWARK, N.J. — Pope Francis today appointed Archbishop Bernard Hebda, who had been serving as bishop of Gaylord, in northern Michigan, as coadjutor archbishop of Newark.
As coadjutor, Archbishop Hebda “possesses the right of succession” in the Archdiocese of Newark, according to canon law. This means he will be automatically appointed archbishop of Newark upon the retirement of the incumbent, Archbishop John Myers, who is now 72.
“Today’s news that the Holy Father has named me the coadjutor archbishop of Newark brings with it the sadness of having to leave the Diocese of Gaylord,” Archbishop Hebda wrote in a Sept. 24 letter to the people of the Diocese of Gaylord.
“I have come to consider this local Church my home and will find it difficult to leave so many faith-filled parishes, schools and friends. Anything that I know about being a bishop I learned from you — and for that I will be always thankful.”
In his farewell to the Gaylord Diocese, Archbishop Hebda added that he is “confident” that Pope Francis “will soon bless the Diocese of Gaylord with precisely the shepherd that you need.”
“As I take up my responsibilities in Newark, I would ask that you occasionally remember to pray that I might joyfully serve the Lord in that radically different setting. You can be sure that you will always be remembered in mine.”
Archbishop Hebda was born in Pittsburgh in 1959, and he studied international affairs at Harvard and received a law degree from Columbia University in 1983. He practiced law briefly, before entering seminary for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
He attended St. Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh and then the North American College in Rome, and he was ordained a priest in 1989. The following year he completed a licentiate in canon law.
As a priest of the Pittsburgh Diocese, Archbishop Hebda served in several parishes, in campus ministry and in the tribunal. In 1996, he was appointed to work at the Holy See for the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which interprets canon law; he served there until his 2009 appointment as bishop of Gaylord.
Other appointments made today by Pope Francis are: Bishop Raúl Martín to the Diocese of Santa Rosa, in Argentina; and Bishop Pietro Fragnelli to the Diocese of Trapani, in Italy.
Also the presidents and secretaries of the Pontifical Councils for the Laity and of Justice and Peace were confirmed in their positions.