Friday, March 13, 2015

Pope names Conventual Franciscan Father John Stowe as new Lexington bishop

Today, at 12-noon Rome time (7 a.m. EDT) Pope Francis appointed Conventual Franciscan Father John Stowe as the Third Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington.

A press conference will be held at The Catholic Center, 1310 W. Main St. in Lexington at 10 a.m.Thursday, March 12, 2015.

The date and time of the ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Stowe remain to be announced.

The Lexington diocese was left vacant, when the pope appointed Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, Second Bishop of Lexington, as the Bishop of Harrisburg, PA. In the interim, Father Robert H. Nieberding has been the diocesan administrator.

Father John Stowe was born April 15, 1966, to John R and Lucy Satelli Stowe of Lorain, OH. He attended grade school at St. Anthony of Padua Parish, staffed by the Conventual Franciscans, and Lorain Catholic High School. Both are located in the Diocese of Cleveland. After a year of community college, Fr Stowe joined the formation program for the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation at St. Bonaventure Friary in St. Louis, MO. During the time of his candidacy he began studies in philosophy and history at St. Louis University and completed a bachelor of arts degree in each in 1990, after an interruption for novitiate. In 1992 he professed solemn vows in the Order of Friars Minor Conventual. The Order of Friars Minor is the formal name for the religious order, which is more popularly known as the Franciscans. “Conventual” denotes that the friars live in community.

Bishop-elect Stowe earned a Masters of Divinity and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology in the field of Church History from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley (now affiliated with Santa Clara University). He served as a transitional deacon at St. David of Wales Parish in Richmond, CA, and completed his diaconate at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in El Paso, TX. In 1995 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop A. James Quinn at his home parish of St. Anthony in Lorain. He was assigned to continue at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church as associate pastor. The parish is at the site of the Ysleta Mission, founded in 1682 and the oldest parish in Texas. It is on the U.S.-Mexico border and includes the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo of the Tigua tribe of Native Americans. Fr. Stowe would continue as pastor of that parish.

In December, 2002, Bishop-elect Stowe was invited by Bishop Armando X. Ochoa, of El Paso, to serve the Diocese of El Paso as Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General. He later also served as Chancellor of the diocese. With a lack of priests in the diocese, Fr. Stowe also assumed the role of Administrator of Our Lady of the Valley Parish there, while serving in the Chancery. At the Province Chapter of 2010, Fr. Stowe was elected Vicar Provincial of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation; he resigned from the Chancery in El Paso and became Pastor and Rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, OH (Diocese of Toledo). He was re-elected vicar at the Chapter of 2014.

During his time in El Paso, Father John taught in the Tepeyac Institute for lay ministry, in the permanent diaconate formation programs for the Dioceses of Las Cruces and El Paso, and was active in community organizing in an organization called EPISO. He was active in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and frequently taught jointly with Rabbi Larry Bach of the Reformed Temple Mount Sinai. In the Franciscan Province Fr. Stowe chaired the Peace and Justice Commission and the Finance Commission at different times and served a term as a definitor (provincial counselor), even prior to his election as Vicar Provincial.

The Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation was founded in 1875 and features a statue of Our Lady from that time brought from the mother shrine in Luxembourg. The Conventual Franciscans were given guardianship of the Shrine in 1912. Tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine each year from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, especially on the Feast of Mary’s Assumption in August.

Pope St. John Paul II established the Diocese of Lexington from portions of the Archdiocese of Louisville, one of the oldest dioceses (a church area designation) in the nation, and the Diocese of Covington, KY, in March, 1988. Bishop-emeritus J. Kendrick Williams retired in 2002, and was succeeded by Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, who guided the diocese from 2003 to 2014, when Bishop Gainer was named the Bishop of Harrisburg, PA.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington encompasses 50 counties in Central and Eastern Kentucky with 63 parishes and 48,000 congregants.