Brian T. Olszewski, The Catholic Virginian
Four hours after Pope Francis named him the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Richmond on Tuesday, Dec. 5, Bishop Barry C. Knestout was introduced to the people of the diocese via a press conference and live stream emanating from the diocesan Pastoral Center.
Bishop Knestout, 55, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington since 2008, succeeds Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo who passed away in August.
After praying the Prayer to the Holy Spirit, the bishop thanked Pope Francis for naming him to Richmond. This was followed by a heartfelt expression of gratitude to his 90-year-old mother, Caroline, and his late father, Thomas, and to his eight siblings.
He further recognized the three archbishops whom he served: Cardinals James A. Hickey, Theodore E. McCarrick and Donald W. Wuerl.
He compared the 10 years he worked with Cardinal Wuerl as “a graduate level education” that he said was “replete with a myriad of experiences.”
Among those experiences were assisting in the hosting of Pope Benedict in 2008 and Pope Francis in 2015; participating in an archdiocesan synod and its implementation; and working with a diverse group of people who serve the Church.
Bishop Knestout, a native of Bowie, Maryland, also acknowledge Msgr. Mark Richard Lane for “his sensitive and wise pastoral leadership” during the four months following the death of Bishop DiLorenzo in which he served as Richmond’s diocesan administrator.
“The faithful of the diocese are profoundly grateful for your service,” he added.
He also acknowledged Bishop DiLorenzo as one “who served this diocese with devotion, steadfastness and a pastor’s heart.”
Bishop Knestout briefly outlined “significant goals” for the Diocese of Richmond.
“…my firm hope is to bring prayerfulness, familial love, charitable service, missionary zeal, and dedicated priestly oversight to my new role as your shepherd.”
He stated, “In a time when we are challenged by many divisions, my hope and prayer is for the Church of Richmond to be a strong voice for unity and charity — an impactful example of reconciliation for those who are divided — a model of solidarity among the neglected, poor and forgotten — and a communion among those who are painfully separated brothers and sisters.”
Referring to the Scripture readings from the First Sunday of Advent, Bishop Knestout said the faithful should “watch with joyful anticipation for the fulfillment of God’s promises.”
“We don’t see clearly how, or in what way, God’s promises will be fulfilled in us,” he said. “Because the future is unknown, we may at times become anxious and hesitant about moving toward and receiving those promises.”
Noting that moving toward fulfillment of those promises is the journey the people of the Diocese of Richmond will take together, Bishop Knestout said, “We stand on a foundation of faith, remembering God’s goodness in the past, through many joys and sorrows. ‘Hope,’ which is so much a part of this season, is ‘Faith reaching’ into the future, into that cloudy unknown. Living confident that these promises are already being realized in us.”
In response to a reporter’s question about what his focus will be, the bishop said he is going to start by getting “the lay of the land” of the diocese, which covers more than 32,000 square miles.
“This is a great missionary field in terms of proclaiming of the Gospel — the Good News,” he said, adding, “I look forward to seeing the Good News is proclaimed effectively, the faith is taught, internalized and accepted in people’s hearts.”
Bishop Knestout will be installed as bishop during the Mass of Installation, Friday, Jan. 12, 2 p.m., at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond.
Return regularly to www.catholicvirginian.org for updates about Bishop Knestout.