Archbishop Hebda to head St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese

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WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has named Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda to head the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His appointment was announced in Washington March 24 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Coadjutor archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, since 2013, Archbishop Hebda has been apostolic administrator of the Minnesota archdiocese since last June. The pope named him to the administrator post after Archbishop John C. Nienstedt resigned.

Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Archbishop Nienstedt, who had headed the archdiocese since June 2008, and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche. Both cited the need to step down to allow healing to begin in the archdiocese.

As apostolic administrator, Archbishop Hebda, a canon lawyer, has had governing authority over the archdiocese as it has faced significant challenges, including bankruptcy, which it entered in January 2015 because of mounting claims of clerical sexual abuse. The archdiocese also faces criminal charges related to a case of clerical sex abuse.

Under Archbishop Hebda's leadership, the archdiocese reached a settlement in December with Minnesota's Ramsey County on civil charges related to the same sex abuse case. The civil and criminal charges were filed simultaneously in June 2015.

His installation Mass will be celebrated May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

"I have been both privileged and blessed to have worked closely with Archbishop Bernard Hebda here in Newark over the last two and a half years," Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said in a statement. "And I also can say that I have been doubly blessed because of our strong personal relationship that began when he was a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College."

"While it may have been difficult for him at times to manage the travel and commitments of serving in two large archdioceses these past months, he embraced this call from the Holy See willingly and prayerfully," Archbishop Myers said. "His tireless, positive approach to dealing with the challenges presented him will be one of the graces that he will share with the people of the Twin Cities."

He said the people of the Newark Archdiocese "are truly grateful for all that he has done here since 2013, and he will be missed."

"The parishioners and general community of the Twin Cities have experienced what the people of Newark already have come to know - a happy spiritual leader who loves people, loves priests and religious, and who loves God and his church," Archbishop Myers added.

Bernard Anthony Hebda was born Sept. 3, 1959, in Pittsburgh. He holds a master's degree from Harvard University, a doctor of law degree from Columbia University, and a licentiate in canon law from Rome's Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the Angelicum.

He studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh April 6, 1989. After ordination to the priesthood, he served in several diocesan positions. He was an official at the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, 1996-2003, and served as undersecretary of the council from 2003-2009, when he was named bishop of Gaylord, Michigan. He was ordained bishop of Gaylord Dec. 1, 2009.

Pope Francis appointed him coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark Sept. 24, 2013.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016