The waiting is over for thousands of Catholics around northern Michigan. A new bishop has been appointed to the Diocese of Gaylord.
Pope Francis appointed Monsignor Steven Raica as the new bishop Friday morning. He succeeds Reverend Bernard Hebda as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord.
He was introduced Friday morning at news conference at the diocese offices in Gaylord. Although the bishop-elect wasn't expecting the appointment, he said he is ready to take on the responsibility.
â??It's going to be a good thing to look and see what it is I can do in my capacity to teach, govern, and sanctify, which are the three principle goals of a bishop to be able to carry on that mission effectively,â?? said Msgr. Raica.
The Diocese of Gaylord is double the size of the Diocese in Lansing where Raica last served as chancellor and vicar general.
â??I hope to carry on the mission of Christ in this area, to proclaim the fact that Christ is Lord, Jesus is Lord and to continue the mission he has in establishing people of faith and to be able to live out that faith,â?? said Raica.
The bishop-elect has a bachelor of arts in mathematics and secondary education from Michigan State University. He received his Master of Divinity from St. John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth.
â??I think that he is a young spirit and he will get aroundâ?¦ to the various parishes, to the various ministries that are in our diocese,â?? said Sister Barbara Hubeney. â??Because he's from a place like Munising, even though that's a smaller area than this, he has that wanting to be personal and so the only way to be personal is to meet the people.â??
The Bishop-elect says he is excited to be back up north.
â??Iâ??m very much looking forward to this,â?? said Raica. â??This is going to be a wonderful thing to begin, to explore and just see what components of beauty and life there are here in upper Michigan and Iâ??m sure there's a lot.â??
The Diocese of Gaylord encompasses 21 counties in northern Michigan, and includes 80 parishes, 17 schools and over 65 thousand Catholics.
Raica will be ordained as the Bishop August 28th at Saint Mary Cathedral in Gaylord.