Native son takes over as Bishop of Harrisburg Diocese

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 19, 2014 5:26 PM

(Harrisburg) -- About a quarter million Roman Catholics in the midstate have a new leader. Ronald Gainer is now Bishop for the Diocese of Harrisburg after a mass Wednesday.

Gainer is a native son, growing up in Pottsville and going to Mary Queen of Peace Grade School in the Schuylkill County city. Gainer greeted a long line of priests, bishops, and others as they entered Saint Patrick Cathedral on State Street in Harrisburg.

Hundreds of both laypeople and Church leaders packed the ornate Cathedral on this rainy Wednesday.


Gainer has already struck a more open and modern tone, on issues confronting the Church, but his homily focused on Saint Joseph.

"His humble obedience to that will and his courage in the face of unexpected circumstances - all are qualities of the mind and soul that we need to cultivate by God's grace at this moment."

He also cited the words of Pope Francis, who emphatically called for the Church to welcome all.

But it wasn't all serious talk from the new Bishop, who is personable and appears comfortable speaking to hundreds.

"It feels very good to drop the title bishop-designate," he said, to laughter.

Bishop Gainer cracked a couple jokes throughout the homily, and also recognized his home of 11 years, Lexington, Kentucky

"While the song is my heart now will once again be the 'Pennsylvania Polka', there will always be an echo of 'My Old Kentucky Home' in my heart."

Gainer has spoken of reaching out to those who have may drifted from the Church in the past, and offered up a shorter version of his homily in Spanish.

Gainer will immediately take control of the Diocese, which spans 15 midstate counties.

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