(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has named three new bishops for North America in the
past two days – two for the United States and one for Canada.
On Tuesday, Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, was named archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut; he succeeds Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, whose resignation the Pope accepted in conformity with canon 401.
Fr. Kurt Burnette, rector of Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was named the new bishop of the Ruthenian Eparchy of Passaic, one of the three eparchies of the Byzantine Catholic Church in the United States.
For the Catholic Church in Canada on Monday, the Pope named Bishop Richard Gagnon of Victoria, British Columbia, the new archbishop of Winnipeg, Manitoba; he succeeds Archbishop James Weisgerber, whose resignation the Pope also accepted in conformity with canon 401.
Archbishop-elect Blair was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1949. He completed his theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1975, and was ordained the following year. He earned a licentiate in history and patristics from the Gregorian in 1978, and a doctorate in theology from the Angelicum in 1997.
His priestly ministry included service in parish ministry. He was also diocesan archivist and secretary to the cardinal of Detroit, prior to serving in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State for five years. He then taught at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and was the archdiocesan director for ecumenical and interreligious relations. From 1994 to 1997, he returned to Rome to serve as secretary to Cardinal Edmund Szoka and to work as an official in the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
Following two years as pastor of Saint Paul Parish in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, he was named auxiliary bishop of Detroit in 1999. He was named to be the bishop of Toledo in 2003.
Bishop-elect Burnette was born in England, in 1955. He was ordained in 1989, for the Holy Mary of Protection Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix.
He holds a doctorate in mathematics and a second doctorate in civil law. He earned a licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. In his priestly ministry, he served in several parishes. He was assistant chancellor and eparchial economos and consultor. He also served as a police chaplain and was the judicial vicar and defender of the bond for the eparchial tribunal.
As a university professor, from 1978 to 2004, he taught mathematics, physics, computer science and engineering in several American universities, including one of the first classes in the world on quantum computing at the University of Portland.
He was named rector of Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary in 2012.
Archbishop-elect Gagnon was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1948. He moved to Vancouver with his family, where he later studied philosophy, history and English literature, earning his teacher’s certificate in 1976. He then pursued theological studies at Beda College in Rome (1979-1983), after which he was ordained for the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
In his priestly ministry, he served in several parishes, founding St. James Parish in Abbotsford, and was chaplain of the Catholic Women’s League. He served as director of the archdiocesan education office and, in 2002, was named vicar general and consultor. He was also vice-president of the diocesan synod. He served as the archbishop’s representative for several Catholic organizations and was president of the Archdiocesan Building Commission and the Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission.
He was named bishop of Victoria in 2004.