On April 18, 2013, the life of Father David Walkowiak, pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Chagrin Falls, changed dramatically.
That’s the day he was introduced as the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, succeeding Bishop Walter Hurley.
Bishop Walkowiak, who was ordained and installed as bishop on April 18, 2013 – his 60th birthday — is marking his fifth anniversary leading the Diocese of Grand Rapids. According to a story from Faith Grand Rapids, the diocesan magazine, here are some highlights from the bishop’s tenure.
- In 2014, he announced a three-year Catholic schools’ initiative focused in improving affordability by increasing scholarships, growing professional capacity and developing a plan for future vitality.
- The following year, a Spanish-language edition of the diocesan magazine was launched to connect with the diocese’s growing Hispanic population.
- In 2016, the bishop announced reinstatement of the permanent diaconate and gathered community input for a strategic plan to ensure future vitality of Catholic schools in the diocese.
- Last year, three men were ordained as permanent deacons, the first since 2006. Also, the bishop launched a strategic planning process to strengthen Hispanic ministry in the diocese.
- Earlier this year, Bishop Walkowiak announced the opening of a new Catholic school, the first new Catholic school in the diocese in 50 years. Also, the Hispanic pastoral plan is nearing completing completion.
Since his installation, Bishop Walkowiak has visited nearly every parish in the diocese, launched initiatives to strengthen Catholic schools, vocations to the priesthood and diaconate and ministry to Hispanic Catholics, according to the article from Faith Grand Rapids. Evangelization remains the bishop’s top priority.
“My dream is that everyone grows stronger in their faith and love of the Lord,” he said.
Bishop Walkowiak is a graduate of St. Bernadette School in Westlake, St., Ignatius High School in Cleveland and the University of Notre Dame.
He was ordained to the priesthood on June 9, 1979 by the late Cardinal James Hickey in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland. During his service in the diocese, he was a parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Lorain. He also studied canon law and served as vice chancellor for the diocese and was on the faculty at Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Wickliffe. He was appointed pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish in 2006 and served there until his appointment ad bishop in 2013.