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Rector of Michigan shrine to head Diocese of Gary

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Msgr. Robert J. McClory, rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Mich., to head the Diocese of Gary, Ind.

Bishop-designate McClory, 56, has been shrine rector since 2017. A native of Detroit, he is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

The appointment was announced in Washington Nov. 26 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-designate McClory will lead a diocese that covers 1,807 square miles in northwest Indiana, hugging four counties along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It has a Catholic population of just over 170,000 out of a total population of close to 787,000.

"I am honored and humbled that the Holy Father has appointed me as the bishop of Gary," Bishop-designate McClory said in a statement. "During this week in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, my heart is full of thanksgiving that he has entrusted me to serve the people of northwest Indiana. I look forward to getting to know the needs of our local church and, together, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ."

Bishop-designate McClory is scheduled to be ordained a bishop and installed Feb. 11. He succeeds Bishop Donald J. Hying, who was appointed bishop of Madison, Wis., in April and installed there in June.

"Here in Msgr. McClory's home diocese, he is recognized as a zealous priest who generously devotes all the talents God has blessed him with to the ministry of spreading the Gospel," Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said in a statement. "The pastors and people of the church of Gary will find themselves blessed by his service. We, the priests, religious and faithful of the Archdiocese of Detroit send him on mission with our heartfelt prayers."

Bishop Hying praised his successor as a capable administrator and pastor who will offer "wisdom, insight and vision" in Gary.

"I'm particularly pleased that he was instrumental in leading and implementing the pastoral synod of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He is uniquely poised to continue to build on Gary's 2017 synod," Bishop Hying said.

Retired Bishop Dale J. Melczek, who was Bishop Hying's predecessor in Gary, said he "was filled with great joy when I heard the news of Msgr. McClory's appointment. He is very gifted and very close to the Lord."

"We are greatly blessed to have his leadership. He is exactly what the Diocese of Gary needs to lead us deeper in our relationship with the Lord," he added.

Robert J. McClory was born Oct. 10, 1963, in Detroit to James and Ann McClory. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in politics and communications from Michigan's Oakland University (1983). He earned a master's of professional studies degree in economic development from Columbia University in New York in 1987, and earned a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1991.

He practiced civil law for a major firm for four years, then discerned a call to the priesthood. He attended Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary from 1994 to 1995 and pursued philosophy studies there.

He received a bachelor of sacred theology in 1998 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, graduating magna cum laude, and earned a licentiate of canon law, summa cum laude, in 2000 from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas, known as the Angelicum, also in Rome. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit May 22, 1999.

After ordination, then-Father McClory served as associate pastor of St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Shelby Township and St. Isidore Parish in Macomb Township, Mich., in addition to weekend assignments at Our Lady of the Lakes in Waterford and St. Blase in Sterling Heights, Mich.

He was administrative secretary to Cardinal Adam J. Maida of Detroit from 2002 to 2003. He served as chancellor of the archdiocese, 2003 to 2009, and then was moderator of the curia and vicar general from 2009 until 2018. He was named a monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

He has been a judge of the Detroit archdiocesan metropolitan tribunal and has been an instructor in canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. When he was named shrine rector in 2017, he had been pastor at Presentation/Our Lady of Victory Parish in Detroit for six years.

Bishop-designate McClory also is a consultant for the Catholic Leadership Institute and a priest-observer for Region VI for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Contributing to this story was Daniel Meloy, a staff writer at Detroit Catholic, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019