Local parishes had something new to be thankful for on Friday morning.
Many priests led morning Mass with the welcome news that Pope Francis named a new bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg.
The Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, 66, will be installed as the 11th bishop of the local diocese on Wednesday, March 19, a little more than a year after the papal inauguration. He will oversee 250,000 Catholics throughout York and 14 other counties.
He fills a leadership role left vacant by Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, who died May 2.
"We've been without a bishop for some time and in mourning, so this is exciting news for us," said Erin Maiolino, parish manager at St. Joseph Parish in Springettsbury Township.
St. Joseph Parish is also comforted by the fact the new bishop has local ties.
Gainer was born in Pottsville and ordained a priest in 1973 in Allentown, where he grew up as a coal miner's grandson and became monsignor, supervising 14 diocesan offices.
"He's really local and we feel like he will understand our diocese," Maiolino said.
"Nice connection": Father Jonathan Sawicki, of St. Mary's Church in York City, said it was nice to have a "Pennsylvania guy" leading the diocese.
"It's a nice connection. He's from coal country like me," he said.
Other priests and parish leaders reached out to Sawicki when the announcement was made.
"They all said we are getting a great bishop. I've heard nothing but good things about him," he said.
Most recently Gainer served as bishop of Lexington, Ky.
He earned a master of divinity degree at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia in 1973, graduating summa cum laude, and earned a licentiate degree in Canon Law and a diploma in Latin Letter from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1986.
Gainer has served in parish, campus ministry, marriages and family, and tribunal positions.
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