News Release: Michigan Catholic Conference Welcomes Monsignor Bernard A. Hebda as Bishop-elect of Gaylord

October 6, 2009

(LANSING)—Michigan Catholic Conference President and Chief Executive Officer Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M. offered the following comments today regarding the appointment of Reverend Monsignor Bernard A. Hebda as Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Gaylord:

“Bishop-elect Hebda’s prominence in the field of law and his experience addressing matters of legislative significance will undoubtedly help serve the mission of the Michigan Catholic Conference, which is to promote a social order that respects the dignity of the human person and to serve the common good in the spirit of the Beatitudes and in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church. I look forward to introducing Bishop-elect Hebda to the Conference and its staff. Michigan Catholic Conference will greatly miss the service of Bishop Cooney, a humble and kind pastor who for the past twenty years has been a close friend to the Conference.”

As bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, Bishop-elect Hebda will serve as a member of the Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors, which is comprised of the state’s seven diocesan bishops, five lay-persons, one priest and one religious sister. The archbishop of Detroit serves as the Chairman of the Board.

Bishop-elect Hebda, 50, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, is currently Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts at the Vatican. He received his Master of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1980 and Juris Doctor degree from the Columbia University School of Law in 1983. He was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1983 and worked as an associate in the law firm of Reed, Smith, Shaw and McClay prior to enrolling at St. Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh in 1984.

Bishop-elect Hebda was ordained a deacon on April 6, 1989 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome by Archbishop John Quinn, and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Donald W. Wuerl on July 1, 1989 in St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. After his ordination, he briefly served as Parochial Vicar Pro Tem at Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Elwood City, PA, before returning to Rome to complete his licentiate in canon law, which he received in 1990 from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

In 1996, Bishop-elect Hebda was appointed to work in the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts in Rome, which is responsible for the interpretation of the Church’s laws, especially the Code of Canon Law. In 2003, he became Undersecretary of the Council. While in Rome Bishop-elect Hebda also served as an adjunct spiritual director at North American College and as a confessor for the postulants of the Missionaries of Charity (founded by Mother Teresa) and for the Sisters of that community working at a home for unwed mothers.

Bishop-elect Hebda succeeds Bishop Patrick R. Cooney, who has led the Diocese of Gaylord since 1989. Bishop Cooney has served as a member and chairman of the Michigan Catholic Conference Finance Committee, three terms as Secretary-Treasurer of the Board of Directors, and Chairman of the Audit Committee.

Bishop Cooney will remain in the Diocese of Gaylord as Apostolic Administrator until Bishop-elect Hebda’s episcopal ordination and installation, which is set for December 1, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.

The Diocese of Gaylord was established by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on July 20, 1971. The territory encompasses 11,171 square miles and includes the 21 most northern counties of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The region is home to some 510,532 residents of which more than 66,200 are Catholic and is served by 80 parishes, 17 Catholic schools and many closely related institutions.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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