Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer
(Harrisburg) -- Pope Francis has named a midstate native as the new bishop for the Roman Catholic church's Harrisburg diocese.
An announcement from the Vatican says current Lexington, Kentucky Bishop Ronald Gainer will succeed the late Joseph McFadden, who died in May.
In a press conference lasting more than a half hour today, Gainer displayed a mix of intellect, wit and straight talk.
He says his Pennsylvania background might help in the short term, but he isn't taking anything for granted.
"I think I have a little bit of a jump start, one might say, having served 29 years as a priest in the Diocese of Allentown," he says. "So, I hope that I come here, back to my roots, with kind of already in my genes, some sense of what are the issues of people here in this part of the commonwealth."
He says he hopes to reach out to young and old alike, including through a program called Theology on Tap.
"Those who might criticize me, and they certainly rightly can criticize my ministry, no one would criticize my accessibility, my availability. I would imagine opportunities such as listening sessions, town hall-type meetings to hear from all the faithful," he says.
The 66-year-old Gainer was born in Pottsville, Schulykill County and ordained a priest for the Allentown diocese in 1973. He became bishop of Lexington in 2003.
The diocese says Gainer has served in parish, campus ministry, marriages and family, and tribunal positions during his priesthood.
He will be installed March 19th as bishop of the diocese, which is made up of 15 central Pennsylvania counties and according to officials has almost 250,000 registered Catholics.
The Diocese of Harrisburg includes 15 counties in central Pennsylvania: Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York.
Nearly a quarter million Catholics live in the district.
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