Central Pennsylvania Catholics have a new leader.
The Most Rev. Ronald Gainer was installed Wednesday as the 11th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg. The diocese is home to about 243,000 Catholics in 15 counties.
“I pledge today, and always, my life and my energy to fulfill this task in service to our local church,” said Gainer during his homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Bishop Gainer is a Pottsville native who served as a priest for nearly three decades in the Allentown Diocese before becoming bishop of Lexington, Kentucky.
“While the song in my heart now will once again be the ‘Pennsylvania Polka’ (laughter), there will always be an echo of “My Old Kentucky Home’ in my heart,” said Gainer.
Wednesday’s installation mass coincided with the Feast of St. Joseph, who scripture states was called upon by God to stand by Mary after she conceived.
Gainer spoke about Joseph’s “readiness to do God’s will” in a time of transition and drew parallels to this time of transition in Harrisburg’s diocese.
The former bishop, Joseph McFadden, passed away last May. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Gainer in January.