Saturday, October 23, 2010

For Bishop Noonan, the Magic Kingdom; Miami Aux to Orlando

In just the fourth Saturday appointment these shores have seen over recent years, this morning the Pope named Miami Auxiliary Bishop John Noonan, 59, as bishop of Orlando.

At the helm of the 800,000-member Disney diocese, the Irish-born prelate succeeds Thomas Wenski, who was sent home to South Florida as Miami's archbishop in late April.

Ordained a bishop for the 1.3 million-member South Florida church in 2005 -- during which rite he memorably wept (right) -- the nominee once described by the Miami Herald as a "prankster priest" becomes the third US auxiliary named by B16 to be given a diocese of his own.

Over his 27-year priesthood, Noonan's served in parish and youth ministry work, as overseer of the Miami clergy, and rector of the archdiocese's college seminary. The bishop's departure leaves the Southeast's largest local church with all of one active auxiliary... and given its archbishop's famously hard-charging ways, smart money says the paperwork for more is ready to go, if not already sent.

While the name of Orlando's fifth bishop -- the diocese's third Miamian in a row -- is anything but a surprise, the appointment came unexpectedly quick; the nod wasn't anticipated until after the 20 November dedication of St James Cathedral following an extensive rehab.

Wenski's still slated to preside over the Grand Re-Opening. His successor's installation is scheduled for 16 December.

With the move, a record-low two Stateside Latin dioceses are currently vacant, the longest-standing of the openings stretching all the way back to... late June. Another 11 local churches on these shores are led by ordinaries serving past the retirement age of 75.