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Northern Illinois Catholics welcome new bishop

Newly-installed Bishop David Malloy of the Rockford Diocese.
Newly-installed Bishop David Malloy of the Rockford Diocese.

Five-thousand Catholics from across northern Illinois gathered in Rockford Monday for the ordination of their new bishop, David Malloy.

The BMO Harris Bank Center was transformed from a sports arena to a cathedral, of sorts, for the installation of Monsignor David Malloy as theRockford diocese’s 9th bishop. The 56-year-old Milwaukee native succeeds Bishop Thomas Doran, who had to retire when he turned 75. Catholics from the 11 county diocese witnessed the elaborate ceremonies involving more than 200 priests. A number of people from St. Mary’s Parish in Elgin drove in, including Patrick Burke. Burke said in an accent indicating he was not an Elgin native that "it was a beautiful service... and it was nice to see an Irishman being ordained today."  

Burke's fellow parishioners Diane Burke, Jan Hoecker, and Mary Ann Toedman confessed the day-long ceremony brought them to tears. Hoecker said they're all excited about the new bishop, who "seems dynamic, personable, and caring." Diane McFadden and Annie Belcher, also of Elgin, said it was important for them to bring family to Bishop Malloy's ordination because this was a historic day that made them feel more connected to the Catholic Church. Both added that since Malloy is relatively young, it will be a long time before they get a chance to witness an ordination again.

Father David Reese, also of St. Mary’s in Elgin, said he’s especially impressed that Malloy has already spent a lot of time getting to know the priests in the Rockford diocese. The ceremonies ran even more deeply for him, as he acknowledged "this wasn't just the ordination of a bishop, but it was all of the presbytery, all of the priests of the diocese, gaining a spiritual father." Reese says it's clear that Bishop Malloy is able to deal with the politics of a large organization, "and perseveres with great joy and happiness." He says one of the first things you notice in Malloy's picture as a bishop is his huge smile, and "that might be the greatest indicator of what to expect."

Malloy was chosen to lead the Rockford Diocese by Pope Benedict the 16th in March. He served five years as general secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and was most recently a pastor in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.


Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.