Pope Francis Appoints Bishops of Memphis, Fresno, Names New Auxiliary for LA

Bishop David Prescott Talley will head Memphis, while Bishop Joseph Brennan will head Fresno. Father Alejandro Aclan is new auxiliary bishop for L.A.

Bishop David Prescott Talley was named bishop of Memphis, Tennessee, March 5.
Bishop David Prescott Talley was named bishop of Memphis, Tennessee, March 5. (photo: Michael Alexander/Archdiocese of Atlanta)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis appointed new bishops Tuesday to lead the Dioceses of Memphis and Fresno, also naming a new auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.

In the announcement, made March 5, Francis named Bishop David Prescott Talley, 68, to head the Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, which has been vacant since October of last year.

Bishop Talley has served in the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana, since November 2016, first as coadjutor bishop and then as bishop, after the retirement of Bishop Ronald Herzog in February 2017.

Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1950, Talley was raised as a Southern Baptist, but converted to Catholicism at the age of 24 while studying at Auburn University.

He became a priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1989 and was appointed to serve as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese in 2013. He holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

The Tennessee diocese has been under the care of Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, whom the Pope appointed to serve as apostolic administrator in October, following the controversial departure of Bishop Martin Holley for what then-Vatican spokesman Greg Burke termed “mismanagement of the diocese.”

The Memphis diocese was the subject of a Vatican investigation, called an apostolic visitation, -in June 2018. The visitation was prompted by criticism of Bishop Holley’s 2017 decision to reassign up to two-thirds of the 60 active priests in the diocese and his appointment of a Canadian priest, Father Clement Machado, as vicar general, moderator of the diocesan Curia and chancellor of the Diocese of Memphis.

Bishop Holley afterward denied he had mismanaged the diocese and suggested Cardinal Donald Wuerl had played a part in engineering his removal. Bishop Holley had previously served as auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Wuerl in the Archdiocese of Washington.

The March 5 Vatican announcement also named Bishop Joseph Brennan, 64, as the new head of the Diocese of Fresno, California.

Bishop Brennan will replace Bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa, who submitted his resignation last April, as he turned 75, the ordinary age of retirement for a bishop.

Bishop Brennan, a native of Los Angeles and the ninth of 10 children, was ordained a priest in 1980. From 2013 to 2016, he served as vicar general and moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He was made an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese in 2015 and speaks fluent Spanish.

Bishop Brennan’s appointment coincides with the naming of Father Alejandro Aclan, Los Angeles’ vicar for clergy, to replace him as an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.

A Filipino, Father Aclan studied medical technology at the University of St. Thomas in Manila and pursued a career in electronic data processing before immigrating to California with his family in 1982, where he eventually discerned a call to the priesthood.

After studying at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California, Father Aclan was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1993. He also served as vice vicar for clergy from 2012 to 2015 and as vicar for clergy from 2015 to 2017.

“Bishop-elect Aclan is a man of prayer, and he has a true heart for Jesus — and a deep concern for the people he is called to serve,” Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez said in a statement March 5. “And I know he will be a voice for Filipino Catholics, who are a beautiful sign of growth and renewal in our Church here in Los Angeles and throughout the country.”

Bishop-elect Aclan will serve the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under Archbishop Gomez, joining L.A. Auxiliary Bishops Edward Clark, David O’Connell, Robert Barron and Marc Trudeau.