STEUBENVILLE -- Approximately 1,800 people watched Monday afternoon as Jeffrey M. Monforton, a former Michigan seminary rector and parish priest was ordained and installed as the fifth bishop of the 13- county Catholic Diocese of Steuben-ville.
The three-hour ceremony was held in the Finnegan Fieldhouse on the Franciscan University of Steubenville campus.
Monforton was named to replace former Bishop R. Daniel Conlon on July 3, nearly one year after Conlon was named bishop of the Joliet, Ill., Catholic Diocese.
Special to the Times
Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton distributed communion following his ordination and installation as the fifth bishop of the Steubenville Catholic diocese.
"I am grateful to be your shepherd," Monforton told the large audience at the end of the ceremony. "Our faith is meant to be proclaimed and to be shared, I am delighted to be your bishop. I am yours," stated Monforton to a standing ovation and shouts of "Hallelujah".
The new spiritual leader for 38,000 Catholics in eastern Ohio including the Marietta area was ordained to the priesthood in Detroit in 1994. He served as the personal secretary to Cardinal Adam Maida from 1998 to 2005. Monforton was Rector/president of the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit from 2006 to 2012. He was appointed pastor of a parish in Rochester, Mich. earlier this year.
"I was taken aback by the phone call. I had a sleepless night after that call. But I am here today nervous and excited. I am putting everything into perspective and I am looking forward to my time here,"
Monforton said during a July press conference at the diocesan Chancery offices in Steubenville.
"There are a lot of options to study in this diocese. I will continue a healthy assessment of what has been proposed by Conlon. I want the church to be welcoming with a strong pastoral outreach. One of my hallmarks has always been education. I look at how we can work with younger children and how do we bolster older children in their faith," Monforton noted during his introductory press conference.
"My first priority as bishop of Steubenville will be the salvation of souls. I also want to make sure our parishes are strong. And I want to look at our media. I want to broaden our approach. I have a Smartphone but I don't have time for Facebook or Twitter. I also believe education is essential. I also believe there is a need for social outreach in the diocese," cited Monforton.
Diocesan spokesperson Pat DeFrancis said two Cardinals, 25 bishops and 115 priests as well as the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano attended the ceremony. Retired Bishop Gilbert Sheldon as well as former Steubenville Diocese Bishop R. Daniel Conlon were here along with Bishop Roger Foys of the Covington (Ky.) Diocese. Retired Bishop Albert Ottenweller could attend but sent a greeting to the new bishop,
"We have a 100-voice diocesan-wide choir who sang during the Mass under the direction of Matthew Berher," added DeFrancis.
The Rev. Bob Gallagher of St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Little Hocking said the new bishop, "is very enthusiastic to be here and that's what we need in our diocese."
"I thought it was a wonderful celebration. It is wonderful to have a new shepherd for our diocese," declared the Rev. Timothy Shannon of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Lowell.
According to the Rev. Thomas A. Chillog, episcopal vicar for pastoral planning and personnel for the diocese and a member of the planning committee, "We are all excited to have a new shepherd. The ordination installation was a momentous occasion. It was a ceremony filled with great historic importance.
DeFrancis said buses filled with Catholic parishioners came to Steubenville Monday from throughout the diocese as well as the Detroit diocese.
Lacey Huck, a sophomore at Franciscan University of Steubenville and a Beverly resident said she was excited to attend the ordination and installation ceremony.
"I thought it was great it was held on our campus. There was so much tradition this afternoon. I was glad I was here. It is something I will always remember," said Huck.
Monforton will be leaving for Rome Wednesday where he will attend a school for new bishops called a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter and conference for new bishops, said DeFrancis. The new bishop indicated he will start visiting Catholic parishes in all 13 counties as soon as possible.