Pope Francis has transferred Bishop Edward Joseph Weisenburger from the Diocese of Salina to the Diocese of Tucson, Ariz. The Holy See made the announcement late last week in Rome. Weisenburger was notified last week by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pierre Christophe, that Pope Francis was entrusting to him the pastoral care of the good people of the Diocese of Tucson.
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, sixth Bishop of Tucson, submitted his resignation in accord with Church law after having reached his 75th birthday. Following today, he will serve as the administrator of the Diocese until Weisenburger’s installation. Weisenburger’s appointment comes more than a year after Kicanas’ offered his retirement.
Bishop Kicanas said, “We are blessed that the Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed as our seventh Bishop in the Diocese of Tucson, a caring and loving pastor and shepherd for our community. He will walk with us, listen to us and stand up for us. His many gifts will provide the pastoral leadership we need. He will be a collaborative worker with diocesan personnel, interfaith leaders and all those with responsibility in this vast diocese of 43,000 square miles.”
Weisenburger served as a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City for almost 25 years. On Feb. 6, 2012, he was appointed Bishop of Salina by Pope Benedict XVI. His ordination, which marked the beginning of his ministry, was on May 1, 2012, at Salina’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. His installation as Bishop of Tucson will take place on Nov. 29, 2017.
The Diocese of Salina serves approximately 44,000 Catholics. The Diocese of Tucson, which borders with Mexico, serves approximately 450,000 Catholics, many of whom are Spanish speaking. Weisenburger enjoys a working knowledge of Spanish and has always treasured his ministry with the Hispanic community. Weisenburger also has an intense concern and love for the well-being of migrants, refugees, and Native American peoples. He is humbled by Pope Francis’ appointment and hopes to join with the bishops of Arizona and New Mexico in being an articulate and indispensable voice of compassion for all immigrants.
Weisenburger said, “I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of a shepherd who has served graciously and generously for many years. Bishop Kicanas has served in many national capacities for the Catholic Church and is highly esteemed. Knowing that he will continue to reside in our Diocese is a great comfort for me and a blessing for our people.”
Catholic Parishes in the Copper Corridor, including St. Francis of Assisi (Superior), Infant Jesus of Prague (Kearny), St. Joseph’s (Hayden), Blessed Sacrament (Mammoth), St. Bartholomew’s (San Manuel) and St. Helen’s (Oracle), are part of the Diocese of Tucson.