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Bishop Kicanas of Tucson retires; pope names Kansas bishop his successor

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Bishop Kicanas of Tucson retires; pope names Kansas bishop his successor

(CNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
of Tucson, Arizona, and named as his successor Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger,
who has headed the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, since 2012.

Kicanas, former vice president and former secretary of the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops, has headed the Diocese of Tucson since 2003. He is 76. Canon
law requires bishops to turn in their resignation when they reach age 75.

changes were announced in Washington Oct. 3 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge
d’affaires at the Vatican’s nunciature in Washington.

Kicanas currently serves on the USCCB’s Catholic education and communications
committees and the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, and is a consultant
to the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. He has chaired and served on several
other USCCB committees.

is a board member of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC.
He also is the former chairman of the board of directors of Catholic Relief
Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency.

Weisenburger will be installed as the seventh bishop of Tucson Nov. 29. Bishop
Kicanas will now serve as administrator of the diocese until his successor’s installation.

are blessed that the Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed as our seventh
bishop in the Diocese of Tucson a caring and loving pastor and shepherd for our
community,” Bishop Kicanas said in a statement.

will walk with us, listen to us and stand up for us. His many gifts will
provide the pastoral leadership we need,” he added. “He will be a
collaborative worker with diocesan personnel, interfaith leaders and all those
with responsibility in this vast diocese.”

am humbled to follow in the footsteps of a shepherd who has served graciously
and generously for many years,” Bishop Weisenburger, 56, said in a
statement. “Bishop Kicanas has served in many national capacities for the
Catholic Church and is highly esteemed. Knowing that he will continue to reside
in our diocese is a great comfort for me and a blessing for our people.”

a news conference in Tucson the day of his appointment, Bishop Weisenburger
said it was his first visit to the diocese. He remarked that after his
installation, he plans to travel throughout the diocese offering Mass in more
remote areas for people who could not attend the Nov. 29 Mass.

am used to traveling long distances,” he said. “I would rather go to them than
have them come to me.”

over nine counties and nearly 43,000 square miles, the Diocese of Tucson is the
fifth largest diocese in the country by size.

offered some remarks in Spanish at the news conference and in earlier that
morning when he was introduced to diocesan staff.

also stated his support for the plight of immigrants in the country without
documents and for the 800,000 youths whose status has been endangered by the
elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, unless
Congress moves to preserve the program.

very much want America for them, but I also really want them for America,” he
said. “Their gifts, their talents and their dedication reveal to us the very
best of what it means to be an American.”

Joseph Weisenburger was born in Alton, Illinois, Dec. 23, 1960. He spent two
years of his childhood in Hays, Kansas, but grew up primarily in Lawton,
Oklahoma, graduating from high school in 1979.

attended Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri, where he
graduated with honors in 1983. He then attended the American College Seminary
at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, where he earned a bachelor’s
degree in theology and master’s degrees in religious studies and in moral and
religious sciences. He also studied Spanish in Spain while attending seminary
in Belgium.

a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City Dec. 19, 1987, he was parochial
vicar at St. Mary Church in Ponca City, Oklahoma, until he was sent to the
University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Ontario, where he earned a licentiate in
canon law.

he returned to the archdiocese in 1992, then-Father Weisenburger was appointed
vice chancellor and adjutant judicial vicar. He also provided weekend parish
and prison ministries from 1992 to 1995 and served as an on-site chaplain for
rescue workers in the weeks following the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah
Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

addition to chancery duties, he worked in parish and prison ministries from
1992 to 1995, often celebrating the sacraments in Spanish.

1996, he was appointed vicar general of the archdiocese. He remained with the
archdiocesan tribunal for almost 20 years and served in various capacities
including promoter of justice for the sainthood cause of canonization of Father
Stanley Francis Rother, who was beatified Sept. 23.

served as pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Okarche, Oklahoma, from 1995 to
2002, and was pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 2002-2012.
On Feb. 6, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Salina. His
episcopal ordination and installation was May 1, 2012.

Chicago native, Gerald Frederick Kicanas was born Aug. 18, 1941. He was
ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago April 27, 1967, and for 25
years, he served in various capacities in the archdiocese’s seminary system. In
1984, he was appointed rector of Mundelein Seminary and held seminary postings
that included rector, principal and dean of formation at the former Quigley
Seminary South.

was named coadjutor bishop of Tucson Oct. 30, 2001, and his episcopal
ordination was Jan. 15, 2002. Tucson Bishop Manuel D. Moreno retired March 7,
2003. As coadjutor, Bishop Kicanas immediately succeeded him as head of the

the news conference, Bishop Kicanas said his successor was “a staunch advocate
for social justice, caring for all human life from conception to natural death.
He is a bishop who has a deep sensitivity and compassion for migrants and

Weisenburger also “understands the struggles of rural communities” and works of
behalf of the people facing those struggles,” the retiring bishop said.

more than a year, we have been praying for Pope Francis and for the Holy Spirit
to send us a loving and caring pastor and shepherd for the Diocese of Tucson.
The Spirit has heard our prayers, and then some,” Bishop Kicanas added.

– –

to this story was Michael Brown in Tucson.


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