With the search under way for a new bishop for the Diocese of Cleveland, prayers are requested for those involved in the process and those affected by it.
Pope Francis accepted Bishop Richard Lennon’s request for early retirement on Dec. 28, 2016. After leading the diocese for 10½ years, Bishop Lennon, who will be 70 in March, announced that his ongoing health challenges preclude him from continuing in his role as bishop.
The same day, Toledo Bishop Daniel Thomas was named by the pope to serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese – in addition to his duties in Toledo – until a new bishop is chosen for Cleveland. According to Church protocol, the changes were announced first in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States.
The faithful noticed an immediate change in the Mass: the celebrant now mentions Bishop Thomas’ name, rather than Bishop Lennon’s.
As the search for a new bishop progresses, additional prayers are being requested for Pope Francis during the discernment process. Also, the faithful are being asked to pray for both Bishop Thomas, as he serves the interim pastoral needs of the diocese, and Bishop Lennon, as he adjusts to a new stage in his life and ministry.
During the transition, priests are being asked to include the following intercession in the weekly Universal Prayers:
“For our Holy Father, Pope Francis, as he selects the next shepherd of our diocese; for our apostolic administrator, Bishop Daniel Thomas, as he serves the needs of our diocese while we are in transition; for Bishop Richard Lennon, as he adjusts to a new stage in his life and ministry; that the Holy Spirit will enlighten and empower all the leaders of our Church with faith in the promises of Christ, hope for the years to come, and charity that knows no boundaries.”
Bishop Thomas said he will split his time between his duties in Toledo and the Cleveland dioceses. No timetable was announced for selecting a new Cleveland bishop.