Tuesday, February 23, 2010

North Countries, High Hats

Welcome to a Two-Fer Tuesday, folks -- B16's put two of the three longest-standing US vacancies to bed, naming the interim hands overseeing the dioceses of Ogdensburg and Scranton as the next ordinaries of each.

The pontiff's picks of now Bishops-elect Terry LaValley and Joseph Bambera, both 53, bring the number of vacant Stateside sees (Latin-rite) to a modern low of... three (in order, Springfield, Harrisburg and LaCrosse).

And if that ain't news on this beat, then what is?

(For the record, four more -- Lafayette in Indiana, Seattle, Spokane and Oklahoma City -- are led by ordinaries serving past the retirement age of 75. That's another decade-long low.)

What's more, it's rare that one, let alone two, diocesan administrators have been named to the posts they've been seat-warming for... last time it happened even once on these shores came in late 2005, when the "teddy bear"-esque Fr David Choby was named bishop of his native Nashville.

SVILUPPO: While the Ogdensburg press conference -- called for 10.30 at the Bishop's Residence -- is shaping up to be a quieter but still very happy affair, the 10am Scranton presser's likely to have a particular feel of exuberance. You'll find a stream of the latter right here just before, so check back then.

On a couple context notes... first, it's already been pointed out that, born five days apart and having run their respective charges ad interim, today's appointees could be considered "twins." And not just on those accounts, either -- both bishops-elect studied canon law at St Paul's in Ottawa: Bambera from 1989-91, then LaValley from 1992-94.

And lastly, while no shortage of names (led, unsurprisingly, by New York auxiliaries) were floated for Ogdensburg, it's likewise little surprise that a native son ended up with the nod -- the last two months of buzz have foreseen as much, explicitly with an eye to ending the "revolving door" that's seen the diocese's last three bishops shuffled to other posts within five years of their respective arrivals.

Named the North Country's 14th bishop, LaValley is the first native of the Ogdensburg diocese to take the reins since 1921.

SVILUPPO 2: At the start of the Scranton presser (video), Bambera's ordination/installation was announced for 2pm on 26 April in St Peter's Cathedral.

According to the Ogdensburg chancery, the date for LaValley's rites remains to be determined.