VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis Wednesday accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, nominating Bishop Steven J. Raica of the diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, as his successor.
Bishop Baker, 75, has been a bishop for 20 years. He headed the Diocese of Birmingham since 2007. The pope has appointed Bishop Baker apostolic administrator of the diocese until Bishop-elect Raica's installation.
Bishop-elect Raica’s Mass of installation will be held June 23 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham, according to the diocese.
The Diocese of Birmingham covers more than 28,000 square miles of Alabama and serves over 104,000 Catholics.
In a statement March 25, Bishop Baker promised his prayers for Bishop Raica and pledged collaboration and support.
Raica will lead the diocese in which the headquarters of the EWTN Catholic media network, the largest religious media network in the world, is located.
EWTN CEO and board chairman Michael Warsaw said Wednesday the appointment “comes as very good news in a very difficult time.”
“I congratulate Bishop Raica on his appointment. I also look forward to welcoming him to our EWTN campus in Irondale and sharing with him the great work of evangelization that EWTN is doing around the world,” Warsaw said.
“I want to assure Bishop Raica of our prayers and support for him as he assumes his new ministry in the Diocese of Birmingham,” he added.
The National Catholic Register is a service of EWTN News.
The 67-year-old Raica, a Michigan native, has been bishop of Gaylord since August 2014.
He has experience working in deaf ministry and is fluent in American Sign Language. He can also speak Italian and Polish conversationally.
Born in 1952 in Munising, Bishop Raica was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lansing in 1978. In 1998, St. Pope John Paul II named him a prelate of honor.
As a priest, Bishop Raica served in various parishes in Burton, Flint, Ovid, Charlotte and Bellevue. He served as co-rector of Lansing’s St. Mary Cathedral and chaplain of Olivet College in Olivet.
He was also superior of Casa Santa Maria, the North American College’s graduate studies house in Rome. He served as spiritual director and adjunct faculty at the college from 1999-2005.
From 2007-2009, he was vice postulator of the sainthood cause of Servant of God Antonietta Meo, a devout Italian girl who died of cancer at the age of six in 1937.
Bishop Raica is also a music lover with an affinity for classical, jazz, classical organ, and choral music. He enjoys reading, cooking, travel and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, according to the Diocese of Gaylord in 2014.
The bishop holds both a licentiate and a doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian University in Rome.
He wrote his doctorate on Canon 1529 of the code of canon law, which concerns a judge’s role in collecting evidence in canonical trials.
As a priest, he served on the Lansing diocese’s tribunal as a pro-synodal judge, the promoter of justice, and a tribunal judge.