(UPDATED: 8/23/19 12:20 PM)
WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Thousands of Catholics across West Virginia have waited nearly a year for this day. The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston now has a new Bishop.
Bishop Mark E. Brennan was installed Thursday afternoon at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
Hundreds packed the cathedral to listen to Bishop Brennan’s first homily to the Diocese.
“This is a day for which we have long prayed,” said Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore who was serving as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. “The installation of a new Bishop to lead and serve the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.”
Catholics within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston had their prayers answered.
“I love celebrating mass,” said Bishop Brennan. “I love preaching the word of God is really the origin of my calling to the priesthood. It was really that was it, so to be able to speak to a lot of people and tell them what I tell my heart about what I hope to do here and encourage them to work with me that was a great joy really.”
A powerful service, included bishops, priests and other clergy from surrounding diocese and Bishop Brennan’s friends and family who traveled from near and far.
“My grandfather Lawrence Lonzway and his grandfather Algernon Lonzway were close brothers, ” said MaryAnn Quinn, who traveled from Cleveland, Ohio. “His grandfather would be very proud of his his appointment today.”
Fellow Catholic Kathy Myers believes the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is in good hands.
“I just know he’s gonna be very good for the Diocese,” added Myers, who is from Gaithersburg, Maryland and knew Bishop Brennan when he ministered in that area. “He’s very humble and very holy and I think he’s got a lot to say and will be helpful for healing things that are going on in the Diocese.”
West Virginia Catholics also came to Wheeling on this historic day, to pray with their new Bishop.
He greeted them all both outside the Cathedral and at a reception at WesBanco Arena.
“There’s a lot of strong, faithful Catholics here and we’ve suffered a lot and I think this is the beginning,” said parishioner Louise Deal from Morgantown. “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that it’s on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary and I think our patron Saint Joseph and our Blessed Mother are really taking care of us. Bishop Brennan is an answer to prayer.”
Bishop Brennan’s message was one of healing, unity, and his hope to reflect God’s light on the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
“West Virginia Catholics, cherish your faith and the holy church that has nurtured it,” he said during his homily. “Make Mary’s yes to God your own and work with me and your brothers and sisters to let the light of Christ be a light brightly visible in the mountains and valleys, the cities, streets and country roads of this beautiful part of God’s creation West Virginia.”
Before exiting the church, Bishop Brennan offered a prayer to parishioners gathered on the sidewalk from a balcony above saying “God Bless Wheeling. God Bless West Virginia”.