Pope appoints North Dakota bishop to Denver, Maine bishop to Buffalo

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Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, N.D., center, walks in procession with other bishops after concelebrating Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican during his "ad limina" visit in this March 6 file photo. Bishop Aquila has been named to lead the Arch diocese of Denver. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, N.D., as the new archbishop of Denver and also named Bishop Richard J. Malone of Portland, Maine, to head the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y.

The pope also accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, who is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope.

The changes were announced in Washington May 29 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vagano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Archbishop Aquila, 61, succeeds Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who was named to head the Philadelphia Archdiocese last July. The new archbishop has headed the Fargo Diocese since 2002. Bishop Malone, 66, has been Portland’s bishop since 2004.

Archbishop Aquila will be installed July 18 during a Mass at Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Bishop Malone will be installed Aug. 10 during a Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo.

“It is a tremendous blessing to be able to return to the particular church where I was ordained and to a place that I consider home because I lived there the majority of my life and served in the priesthood there,” Archbishop Aquila said at a news conference in Denver.

A Denver archdiocesan priest, he left in 2001 to serve the Fargo Diocese, he said, adding, “I never imagined that I would return one day as archbishop … yet it is all part of God’s plan.”

God’s “providential love filled me with peace and joy as I was called by him to serve as shepherd for the church that gave birth to my vocation as a priest,” he said.

At a news conference in Buffalo, Bishop Malone said: “While there is sadness in my heart at leaving the Catholic faithful of Maine … I look forward with enthusiasm to taking up my responsibility as chief shepherd of the Church of Buffalo.”

“I am very grateful to follow in the footsteps of Bishop Kmiec who is a loving, faithful and generous servant of the Gospel,” he added.

Archbishop Aquila, a native of California who was ordained a priest in 1976, was named coadjutor bishop of Fargo in 2001 and became bishop of Fargo in 2002, when his predecessor, Bishop James S. Sullivan retired for health reasons. Bishop Sullivan died in 2006.

As a Denver priest, he served the archdiocese in several posts, including as co-director for continuing education for priests, as an adviser to the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy, and as assistant secretary for Catholic education before being named secretary, a position he held from 1995 until 1999.

He also was the first director of the archdiocese’s St. John Vianney Seminary, and chief executive officer of Our Lady of the New Advent Theological Institute.

Samuel Joseph Aquila was born Sept. 24, 1950, in Burbank, Calif. He studied at what was then Vincentian-run St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, where he earned a master’s degree in theology, and at San Anselmo University in Rome, where he earned a licentiate in theology.

Archbishop Aquila “has been a trusted friend for many years,” Archbishop Chaput said in a statement. “He’s a leader of energy, intelligence and fidelity to the church; a man of kindness, humor, many warm lay friendships and great fraternal love for his priests. His appointment is a ‘coming home’ for one of Colorado’s finest sons.”

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles — who noted Archbishop Aquila is a native son of his archdiocese — described the new archbishop as “a good priest with a heart for the poor and the unborn.”

“He has deep commitments to vocations and to the sacramental preparation and formation of young people. He will also bring to Denver a special care for Hispanic ministry and the new evangelization of American culture,” Archbishop Gomez added.

Richard Joseph Malone was born in Salem, Mass., March 19, 1946, and ordained a priest for the Boston Archdiocese in 1972. He holds a bachelor of theology degree, a master of divinity degree, and a master of theology in biblical studies from St. John Seminary School of Theology, a doctor of theology degree in religion and education from Boston University, and a licentiate in sacred theology from Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

When Bishop Malone was appointed to head the Diocese of Portland in 2004, he was an auxiliary bishop of Boston, ordained in 2000. Prior to becoming a bishop, he taught theology at the Boston archdiocesan seminary and had served as director of campus ministry at Harvard University.

He also was director of the archdiocesan office of ecumenical and interreligious affairs, director of religious education, and secretary for education.

Bishop Kmiec has headed the Buffalo Diocese since 2004. Before that, he was bishop of Nashville, Tenn., from 1992 until his appointment to Buffalo. He was an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., from 1982 to 1992.

Edward Urban Kmiec was born in Trenton June 4, 1936. He studied in Baltimore at St. Mary’s Seminary and in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical North American College. He was ordained a priest in 1961.

In a statement welcoming Bishop Malone to the province of New York, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he looked forward to working with Buffalo’s new bishop, adding that the diocese’s “priests, religious, and faithful … will find in him a most capable and pastoral shepherd.”

The cardinal also thanked Bishop Kmiec for “his years of wise and caring leadership of the church in western New York.”

“He has been a good friend, whose insights and advice I have come to rely upon during the past three years that I have been archbishop of New York,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I hope we can count on his wise counsel for many years to come.”

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