Pope Francis named Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., to replace retiring Bishop William Murphy as leader of the Rockville Centre diocese, which includes 1.4 million Catholics on Long Island.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the pope’s US ambassador, announced the decision Friday morning in Washington, D.C. Barres, 56, will become the fifth Bishop of Rockville Centre following a Mass of Installation at the Cathedral of Saint Agnes on Jan. 31.
“I must thank the priests and the entire people of God of the Diocese of Allentown, where I have had the great blessing of serving as bishop for the last 7 ½ years,” Barres said in a statement. “You will all always be in my heart, my memories, my prayers and my masses as I remember our days of ‘holiness and mission’ together.”
Murphy, 76, is retiring 15 years after being tapped to lead the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which ranks as the sixth-largest Catholic diocese in the nation. Under its umbrella are 133 parishes plus 1 campus parish, 57 Catholic schools, a Catholic college, and Catholic Health Services (CHS) of Long Island, which has six hospitals, three health care centers, four nursing homes, a home care and hospice network and a community-based agency for persons with special needs.
“It is my deep conviction that [Barres] will be a Bishop for all of us without exception,” Murphy said in a statement. “He has shared with me his love of youth and his care for the elderly. He has a keen sense of parish life and has a special expertise in education.”
Murphy also touted Barres’ support of the nonprofit Catholic Charities mission to help the needy, parish outreach as well as interfaith cooperation. Barres, who was the fourth Bishop of Allentown, where he worked to strengthen Catholic schools, enhance evangelization and improve the financial condition of the diocese.