Thanks and Prayers for the New Bishop of Richmond

Today, a native son of the Church of Washington, Bishop Barry C. Knestout, is being installed as the new shepherd of the Diocese of Richmond at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. We rejoice that Pope Francis has given our now-former auxiliary bishop this responsibility to teach, lead and sanctify that portion of the Lord’s flock entrusted to him.  His episcopal motto, “Christ Our Hope,” inspired by the theme of Pope Benedict’s visit, reflects the goal of his life and ministry as he brings Christ’s love and hope to his new family of faith in Virginia in that historic diocese.

Bishop Knestout was born in Cheverly, Maryland, and grew up as a member of Saint Pius X Parish in Bowie, one of nine children of Caroline and the late Deacon Thomas Knestout. Following his formation at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, he was ordained a priest of our archdiocese in 1989 by Cardinal James Hickey.  As Archbishop of Washington, I had the honor of ordaining him a bishop in 2008.

Before becoming auxiliary bishop for Washington, Father Knestout served as a parish priest as well as priest secretary to Cardinal Hickey and later Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Named a Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1999, he also led the archdiocese’s Office of Youth Ministry/Catholic Youth Organization and subsequently the Secretariat for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns.  The great breadth of knowledge and experience he gained in these roles led me to name him as vicar general and as Moderator of the Curia, essentially the “chief of staff” in the day-to-day operation of the archdiocese’s central offices.

Over the past decade, Bishop Knestout helped host the pastoral visits of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.  He chaired the General Preparatory Commission for the first Archdiocesan Synod in 2014 to mark the Archdiocese of Washington’s 75th anniversary. Thereafter, he played a leading role in the implementation of its statutes and recommendations, aimed at building the best Church we can be.

In his service to the spiritual family of Washington, Bishop Knestout has demonstrated a loving commitment to the Church and her teaching, deep concern for pastoral ministry, and devoted service to those entrusted to his care. Working closely with him these many years, I have appreciated his priestly spirit and skill, wealth of knowledge, patient manner and kindness of heart. On a personal note, I am grateful for his friendship and generous assistance in my own episcopal ministry.

Now as my friend, brother bishop and Washington’s native son assumes new responsibilities in the Church of Richmond, Bishop Knestout carries with him the warm affection, respect and admiration of all of us, and we pledge him our support and prayers, asking God to bless him and his ministry.