Catholics in Erie, Pa., are deeply grateful for Pope Benedict's July 31 appointment of Msgr. Lawrence T. Persico as the diocese's tenth bishop.
“The Lord has answered our prayer and the Diocese of Erie has a new shepherd,” Bishop Donald W. Trautman said during a press conference Tuesday.
Bishop-designate Persico will succeed Bishop Trautman who, following Church procedure, submitted his resignation following his 75th birthday over a year ago.
Bishop Trautman said he knows the bishop-designate will love his “new spiritual family” in Erie and said the diocese would like to welcome him “with open arms” while assuring him of their “full support and cooperation.”
“I am delighted to be coming to Erie,” Bishop-designate Persico told the press conference.
Bishop-designate Persico said his appointment comes during an “exciting time” in the Church, especially since his ordination will come just before the start of Pope Benedict's “Year of Faith,” which will launch in October of this year.
“This year of Faith is a time for us to renew and deepen our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and recommit ourselves to His Church,” he said.
His pastoral motto will be “Truth in Charity,” he said, citing Pope Bendict's encyclical of the same name and Ephesians 4:14-15.
A Pennsylvania native, Bishop-designate Persico was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Greensburg, Pa. in 1977 and has served as vice-president of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.
After graduating from the Greensburg diocesan seminary high school in 1969, Bishop-designate Persico went on to earn a Master's of Divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa.
In 1980, after having served as parochial vicar of Immaculate Conception Parish in Irwin, Pa., Bishop-designate Persico studied canon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he earned the licentiate degree in 1982. Since 1983, he has been a member of the Canon Law Society of America.
Following his appointment as assistant chancellor of the Diocese of Greensburg in 1998, the bishop-elect was appointed pastor of Saint James Parish in New Alexandria while also serving as the bishop's representative to the administrative board of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.
In 2008, he was named a monsignor with the title of Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II.
While continuing as pastor, Bishop-designate Persico was appointed moderator of the curia, vicar general and the bishop's delegate for clergy sexual abuse in 2005 by Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg.
Months later, he was elected vice president of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference for two back to back terms which lasted until 2011.
Bishop-designate Persico will be ordained as Bishop of Erie, which is made up of 225,000 Catholics in 13 counties, during an Oct. 1 Mass at the diocese's St. Peter's Cathedral.