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New bishop takes reins for Youngstown Diocese

Special to the Joujrnal/R. Michael Semple The Most Rev. David J. Bonnar, holding the Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis, was ordained the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown on Tuesday at St. Columba Cathedral in Youngstown. The letter is the official document from the pope appointing Bonnar bishop.

YOUNGSTOWN — Saying it was “the biggest moment in his life, “ the Most Rev. David Bonnar is ready to begin serving as the new bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown following his installation and ordination Tuesday at St. Columba Cathedral.

After the two-hour ceremony and ritual, Bonnar met with family, friends and guests in attendance, which was limited to invitation only due to the viral outbreak.

“I am so humbled, appreciative and grateful. I will never, ever forget this,” Bonnar said.

He said it was Nov. 9 that he received the life-changing news of the decision for him to be named the sixth bishop of the diocese. It was officially announced to the public a few days later.

“It was very emotional when I received the phone call. For these last two months I have done a lot of praying and reflecting. I am so grateful for this new role,” Bonnar said.

Bonnar thanked Monsignor Robert Siffrin, who has worked with Bonnar to prepare him for the transition into the position. He officially named Siffrin as vicar general.

“I am excited to begin my time here in Youngstown. My dear brothers and sisters of the Youngstown Diocese, I am grateful and thankful to be here and to be your bishop. They are welcoming a new bishop and I am welcoming a new flock. Part of that is the Holy Spirit which is leading us and guiding us,” Bonnar said.

During the ordination, Bonnar lay face down on the floor with his arms outstretched in front of the altar as prayers were sung around him and then the different bishops placed their hands on Bonnar’s head. He later took his seat for the first time in the bishop’s chair at the cathedral.

“To me this is the fullness of priesthood. It was quite emotional when I was prostrating on the ground. There is the calling forth of the prayers for the saints,” he said.

During the ceremony, Bonnar walked into the congregation holding the Apostolic Letter, which is the official document of Pope Francis appointing Bonnar bishop.

The Rev. David Zubik, bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said it was 70 years and 25 days ago on Dec. 22, 1950, that the Rev. John Francis Dearden, an Ohioan, became the seventh bishop for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

He said now a trade is taking place in 2021, as Bonnar, a Pennsylvanian, became the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown.

“So today 70 years and 25 days later we have a Pennsylvania to serve in Youngstown,” he said.

Zubik said Bonnar will have multiple duties and responsibilities, including to ordain, to baptize and confirm, be merciful to the needy, to teach and to be loyal to the Holy Father. He said Bonnar will also be responsible to protect the dignity of everyone from birth to death and to protect the vulnerable.

“Like Christ you are called to preserve the sacred teachings and traditions of our beloved church. The charge is now given to you to be a father to the faithful who have been entrusted to your care. Every bishop is called to be Father spiritually to the 160,000 daughters and sons he will serve,” Zubik said.

Bonnar is filling the position held by the late Bishop George Murry who served the diocese before his death in June.

The ordination was recorded and will be broadcast on Ecumenical Television Channel at 12:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. today and Saturday.

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