Pope Francis has appointed three auxiliary bishops to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald E. Wilkerson, 75, another Los Angeles auxiliary. The bishops-elect are Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan, 61, a priest of Los Angeles and until now vicar general and moderator of the curia, Father Robert Barron, 55, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and until now rector of Mundelein Seminary, and Msgr. David G. O’Connell, 61, a priest of Los Angeles and until now pastor of St. Michael Parish in Los Angeles.
The appointment was publicized in Washington today by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles comprises 8,762 square miles in Southern California. It has a total population of 11,518,233 people, of whom 4,362,469, or 38 percent, are Catholic. It is the largest diocese by Catholic population in the United States. The archdiocese has four other active auxiliary bishops and two other retired ones.
Father Barron is a well known Catholic commentator and founder of the ministry Word on Fire.
He released a statement today regarding his appointment:
“It was with enormous surprise that I received word of my appointment as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, but it is with a humble and joyful heart that I accept it. The Church of Los Angeles – the most populous in the United States-is energetic, diverse, and creative. Over the years, I’ve visited many times, including multiple trips to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim; most recently, I was in the Archdiocese for a lecture at Thomas Aquinas College. So though I can’t claim to know it well, I have been able to taste and see some of its richness.
“The late Francis Cardinal George – the spiritual grandfather of Word on Fire – was a mentor and friend to me. The mission closest to his heart was the evangelization of the culture, bringing Christ to the arenas of media, politics, law, education, the arts, etc. I can’t think of a more exciting field for this sort of work than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centers of our time.
“Many might be wondering what this means for the important work of Word on Fire. The short answer is that it will certainly continue! Through the ministrations of Fr. Steve Grunow and his extremely gifted staff, we will keep bringing you my regular articles, sermons, videos, and media resources.
“We have so many new projects in the works, including our new film and study program on God and atheism, titled The Mystery of God, and our beautiful new documentary series CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players. Those projects will continue as planned with more to come in the future.
“I am grateful to all of you who follow and support Word on Fire, using our content to form yourselves and share the Catholic Faith. I thank God each and every day for you.
“It is a blessing for me to work with you to introduce people to Jesus Christ and invite them to share all the gifts he wants his people to enjoy.
“Please pray for me as I begin this new adventure under the Lord’s providence.”
Father Robert Barron has served as rector of Mundelein Seminary and president of University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, since 2012. He was born November 19, 1959, in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a master’s in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington (1982), a licentiate in sacred theology from University of St. Mary of the Lake (1986) and a doctorate in sacred theology from Institut Catholique de Paris (1992). He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago in May 1986.
Assignments following ordination included associate pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Church in Park Ridge, Illinois (1986-1989), Institut Catholique de Paris (1989-1992), professor of systematic theology at University of St. Mary of the Lake (1992), visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame (2002) and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome (2007) and scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College, Rome (2007, 2010, 2011). He was appointed the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary in 2008. While teaching in the United States, he served in parishes throughout the Chicago Archdiocese during weekends. Bishop-elect Barron is fluent in French and has reading and some speaking knowledge of German.
Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles since 2013. He was born March 20, 1954, in Van Nuys, California. He completed philosophical and theological studies at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California, and was ordained a priest of the archdiocese on June 21, 1980.
Assignments following ordination included parochial vicar of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Los Angeles (1980-1983), St. Linus Parish in Norwalk (1983-1987), and St. Vibiana Cathedral, Los Angeles (1987-1991); as well as pastor of St. Linus in Norwalk (1992-2004) and Holy Trinity Catholic Church, San Pedro (2004-2012). He began service as chaplain to the Southern California Knights of Columbus in 1995, served on the presbyteral council, 2003-2008, and resided at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, 2012-2013. He was named a Chaplain of His Holiness (Monsignor) in 2005.
Msgr. David G. O’Connell has served as pastor of St. Michael Parish in Los Angeles since 2003. He was born August 16, 1953, in Cork, County Cork, Ireland, and attended All Hallows College in Dublin. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on June 10, 1979.
Assignments following ordination included associate pastor of St. Raymond Parish, Downey (1979-1983), St. Maria Goretti Parish, Long Beach (1983-1984) and St. Hilary Parish, Pico Rivera (1984-1988); and pastor of St. Frances X. Cabrini Parish, Los Angeles (1988-1998) and Ascension Parish, Los Angeles (1998-2003). He was named a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) on November 30, 1999. He served on the presbyteral council (1996-2002, 2003-2006), the priests’ pension board (2000-2004) and as dean of the Inglewood Deanery (2011-2014).
Bishop Gerald E. Wilkerson was born October 21, 1939, in Des Moines, Iowa. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on January 5, 1965, appointed an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles on November 4, 1997, and ordained a bishop January 21, 1998.