Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Winona's Bishop Harrington Requests May 7 Succession

The official transition to a new bishop for the Diocese of Winona may happen May 7, the date on which outgoing Bishop Bernard Harrington has asked the Vatican to make the change.

Welcoming a new bishop

What's new: Outgoing Diocese of Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington has requested a May 7 transition date for handing oversight of the diocese over to Bishop John Quinn.

What's next: The Vatican needs to formally approve the transition date.

What the transition means: Quinn will officially become the leader of the diocese, which covers Minnesota's 20 southern-most counties.

Writing in The Courier, the diocese's official newspaper, Harrington said May 7 would be a fitting transition date because that's when he will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

The May 7 date is just a request at this point in time, however, and the Vatican hasn't formally approved it, said Diocese of Winona spokeswoman Rose Hammes. It's possible the Vatican's timing will be different from what Harrington has requested, she added.

Harrington has shared oversight of the Diocese of Winona with Bishop John Quinn since December, when Quinn was formally welcomed to the diocese. The estimated Catholic population of the diocese is approximately 148,400 people or about 28 percent of the 20-county diocese's overall population. There are 118 Catholic parishes in the diocese.

Quinn's title since that time is coadjutor bishop, which basically means he's a co-bishop. It's not uncommon for new bishops to have an overlap period with outgoing bishops as they learn the ropes in their new positions.

"The minute the Vatican says that they've accepted Bishop Harrington's retirement, Bishop Quinn becomes the bishop," Hammes said.

If that decision coincides with Harrington's 50th anniversary celebration at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the formal transition will likely be acknowledged at that event.

Otherwise, there will be no ceremony, Hammes said. Quinn was formally welcomed to the diocese at a Dec. 11 ceremony attended by several bishops from around the Upper Midwest.

Harrington, 75, who recently underwent hip-replacement surgery, has said he plans to live in Rochester in his retirement, filling in as pastor as needed at local parishes. Rochester Post Bulletin

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