LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) ― The bishop who has led the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette for 26 years said Wednesday that the Illinois priest taking his place will bring new energy and experiences to the position.
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Monsignor Timothy Doherty, 59, to succeed Bishop William Higi, the Vatican announced. Doherty currently is pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Dundee, Ill., and has been a priest for the Diocese of Rockford since he was ordained in 1976.
Doherty said he hadn't anticipated being named a bishop and that "today it is a different life."
He said he learned about the appointment in an April 16 a phone call, shortly after being given a wristband encouraging organ donations following the funeral Mass for a firefighter who died unexpectedly at age 53.
"Not half an hour after I'd put on a 'Donate Life' wristband did I ever imagine that I was going to be a whole body donation to the Diocese of Lafayette," Doherty said.
Higi said he expected Doherty to be formally installed as bishop during a July 15 Mass.
Doherty takes over a 24-county diocese with about 100,000 Catholics that stretches from the Illinois to Ohio state lines, taking in much of rural northern Indiana as well as the fast-growing and affluent northern suburbs of Indianapolis.
Higi, 76, has led the diocese since 1984 and was required by church law to submit his resignation to the pope when he turned 75.
"I know that your prayers will all be with our new bishop," Higi told church members. "It is a great blessing for us, I think, to have a man with more energy, a man with a different vision and different experience."