YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – “I want to be a leader and a model for everyone who’s here and lead them to Jesus Christ,” said Rev. David J. Bonnar.
A new bishop has been named to the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown who has ties to the area.
When George Murry stepped-down as bishop of Youngstown last spring, many insiders believed the process of replacing him could last up to 18 months. But in just a fraction of that time, a new bishop-elect is ready to become just the sixth to oversee the diocese.
Rev. Bonnar comes from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the city in which he was born. He is presently the pastor of St. Aidan Parish in Wexford, Pennsylvania.
Just four months after being installed as pastor in Wexford, Rev. Bonnar took a surprising phone call last week from the archbishop of Washington, D.C., who told him he’d been appointed by Pope Francis to be the next bishop of Youngstown.
“For a moment I was utterly speechless. There was a deafening silence and then the archbishop kept saying, ‘Hello, hello?'” Rev. Bonnar said.
He received his STB from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained to the priesthood in 1988.
He has worked in the greater Pittsburgh area for more than 30 years, including his very first assignment at St. Vitus Parish in New Castle.
For 12 years, he was chaplain of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He succeeds Murry, who resigned last May and then died of leukemia in June.
“I hope to emulate his example. He was a true gift to the church who left us too soon. I promise I will build on his foundation,” Rev. Bonnar said.
Rev. Bonnar’s appointment comes at a time when the church has been rocked by pedophile allegations against clergy, but he told reporters before celebrating his very first mass at St. Columba Cathedral Tuesday afternoon his mission will be overcoming what divides us.
“We need unity in our families, parishes, neighborhoods and communities. One by one we can bring people together,” Rev. Bonnar said.
Even when COVID-19 has many parishioners staying away from mass…
“We cannot stop being the church. It’s important that we continue to bring the church together,” Rev. Bonnar said.
Rev. Bonnar’s episcopal ordination will take place on Jan. 12 at the St. Columba Cathedral at 2 p.m.