The Jesuit clergyman says the Youngstown Catholic Diocese reflects America.



The Jesuit clergyman says the Youngstown Catholic Diocese reflects America.
By LINDA M. LINONIS
VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Most Rev. George V. Murry, who will be installed March 28 as the bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, said he plans to spend his first year meeting and getting to know the priests, nuns, lay staffs and parishioners of the diocese.
He has served as bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1999.
"I want to listen to and understand the faithful of the Diocese of Youngstown," Bishop Murry said during a press conference Tuesday morning at the chancery office, 225 Elm St. "I will spend the first year visiting parishes, schools, hospitals and Catholic Charity offices."
Monsignor Robert J. Siffrin, diocesan administrator, introduced the first black Catholic bishop of Youngstown and thanked the press for coming out on a snowy day. In a humorous manner, Bishop Murry responded that he had suggested the press conference take place in the Virgin Islands.
He turned serious and complimentary with acknowledgment of Monsignor Siffrin's work. Bishop Murry said he wanted to recognize the "outstanding commitment as administrator of the diocese" that he had demonstrated. Monsignor Siffrin has served as diocesan administrator since June 2, 2005, after Bishop Thomas Tobin was named head of the Diocese of Providence, R.I.
As for Monsignor Siffrin's role in the diocese, Bishop Murry said the two would be discussing it. As an aside, Bishop Murry said he offered the monsignor his residence in the Virgin Islands for a well-deserved vacation.
Ethnic diversity
Concerning his first impression of the diocese, Bishop Murry said information on the six-county Diocese of Youngstown, the counties of Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Trumbull and Stark, has come from conversations with Monsignor Siffrin and checking out the diocese profile in the Catholic directory.
"It reflects America ... a cross-section of America that we know and love," Bishop Murry said of the ethnic diversity of the diocese.
Of the biggest challenge that the diocese faces, Bishop Murry said, "Ask me in a year ... I need to talk to priests, the chancery staff and people about what makes the diocese tick. I didn't come in with preset expectations."
To the challenges of his new assignment, Bishop Murry said, "I'm blessed as a Jesuit to have a solid education."
As for the wintry weather of Ohio compared with the sunny Caribbean, the new bishop said, "I come at the request of the Holy Father." Pope Benedict XVI made the announcement of the appointment at noon Tuesday in Rome.
"The Virgin Islands do have the advantage of weather," he said, noting he left the islands when the temperature was a balmy 78 degrees. But referring to "growing up in New Jersey" and "spending time in Chicago" (as the auxiliary bishop from 1995-98 in the Archdiocese of Chicago), he said he was used to a wintry climate. He emphasized that the work is about "serving the people of God," no matter the location.
Bishop Murry is no stranger to urban environments, having served in Chicago, as associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of Detroit and president of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. .
"I have a lot of experience in urban America," he said. "I've been blessed with serving in administrative positions, so I know how things operate."
Numbers
The bishop will lead 216,151 registered Catholics and of that number, about 400 black Catholics. The new bishop described himself as a "person who thoroughly enjoys people and someone who wants to know what's important to them."
According to the National Black Catholic Congress, there are 15 black Catholic bishops in the United States including Bishop Murry.
In commenting about the violence on city streets including the latest killings of four young people in Youngstown this week, Bishop Murry talked about "an active and effective youth ministry" to reach out to young people as one way of addressing the problem.
Bishop Murry also said he hoped to "nurture vocations" and help "identify those called by God" in the realm of religious vocations.
The new diocesan leader also shared that he is working on a book and that in his leisure time he likes to play tennis, walk and bicycle. Music is another interest.

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