Our Holy Father, 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 today 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 upon reaching his 75th birthday. 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. In light of Kicanas' good health and exceptional service, it is not surprising that the Holy See extended his tenure for an extra year. Weisenburger stated “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.”
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.
While the Catholic people in the Diocese of Salina find it an honor that their beloved bishop has been selected to serve as the Bishop of Tucson, they are saddened to see him leave. Under his leadership, the people of Salina has witnessed many significant improvements. Weisenburger’s five and one-half year tenure in the Salina Diocese was marked by the opening of a new Diocesan Catholic Charities headquarters with considerably upgraded ministries and services. He also has led the efforts to shine a spotlight on the cruel abuse of the poor at the hands of the predatory (“payday”) loan industry. In addition to Catholic social ministries he also focused his energy on personal visits to the 86 parishes of the Salina Diocese, vocation recruitment, higher education for clergy, cooperation with Via Christi-Ascension in their acquisition of Manhattan’s hospital — now Catholic in identity. .He also restructured the Diocese’s chancery with an emphasis on professional lay ministers collaborating with clergy in all areas of administration, which included dedication in promoting women to greater responsibilities and service within the diocesan structure.
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. While not fully fluent, Weisenburger does enjoy 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 wellbeing of migrants, refugees, and immigrant 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.