(UPDATE: 8/22/19 2:30 PM)
WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – It’s been anticipated by West Virginians for months, and the day is almost here.
Thursday afternoon Catholics in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will have a new bishop, after months of scandal and uncertainty.
Bishop Mark E. Brennan will be officially installed at 2:00 p.m. Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, but before that, he spoke exclusively to 7News.
Bishop Brennan said in some ways the shock of being named Bishop Designate of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston hasn’t worn off, but he is excited to lead parishioners here.
“We can’t just stay in the past,” said Bishop Brennan, Bishop Designate of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. “We have to acknowledge it and deal with it, but we also have to go forward. We have to more forward. The good news of Jesus Christ we have to proclaim that in word and deed here.”
Bishop Mark E. Brennan said he wasn’t expecting to be named bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, but it’s a job he’s eagerly anticipating.
He will lead nearly 75,000 Catholics in 95 parishes across the Diocese, and Bishop Brennan hopes to connect with them all.
“I have to get to know people here and get to know the place and what’s going on,” he continued. “Where can the church effectively be with people proclaiming the fundamental message of the Lord Jesus Christ?”
To do that, he has to travel.
Bishop Brennan said as a parish priest, and as an Auxiliary Bishop, he put thousands of miles on his car.
“In my first year in the Baltimore Archdiocese, I put 20,000 on,” he remembered. “I may put double that here in Wheeling-Charleston. This is a big state!”
While Bishop Brennan plans to live in Wheeling, he won’t exclusively be spending time there.
“I can’t just stay in Wheeling, obviously, I have to get around the state,” he explained. “There is down in Charleston apparently a residence the Bishop can stay in there, or I can stay at a parish. I’ll work all that out, but I won’t be staying all the time in Wheeling.”
As decreed by Rome, Bishop Brennan also has a role in deciding how former Bishop Michael Bransfield will make amends.
The Bishop plans to first consult those who were affected by the behavior, including the College of Consulters and the Finance Council, which is made up of laypeople.
“I will do that quickly after I get installed, then bring that to prayer, reflect on it, and then I gotta make decisions,” Bishop Brennan said. “I hope that Bishop Bransfield will be cooperative. If it is, it’s better for him and for the overall situation resolving that matter, making some amends for some of the real damage he created.”
Bishop Brennan says he will be different, speak the truth and live up to his word.
“Well I pay my own bills,” he said. “If I give gifts, they’re out of my money you know? I trust God. I trust God to help. The Lord has never failed me. I’ve failed him at times, but he’s never failed me, so I trust him to help me go forward.”
Bishop Brennan most hopes that parishioners embrace him.
“Give me a chance to show that I care about the people of this Diocese and the state,” he asked.
You can watch the installation of Bishop Brennan live at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday on WTRF My Ohio Valley, the 7News Facebook page and WTRF.com.
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