byFather Robert M. O'Grady
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Pope Benedict XVI named Boston auxiliary and vicar general/moderator of the curia, Bishop Richard G. Lennon to be the tenth bishop of the Cleveland diocese. Bishop Lennon will be installed on May 15 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Bishop Lennon, an Arlington native and a graduate of St. James School and Matignon High School, attended Boston College and archdiocesan seminaries prior to his ordination by Cardinal Umberto Medeiros on May 19, 1973. He served in several parishes where he was well-loved and where he developed numerous friendships among his parishioners. His first assignment was at St. Mary of the Nativity, Scituate followed by St. Mary, Quincy.
He left parish ministry and served as assistant to the moderator of the curia for canonical affairs. He earned the respect and admiration of many priests of the archdiocese for his willing attention to their needs and well-known rapid response to canonical questions and problems.
He was named rector of St. John’s Seminary and established a spirit of collaboration with the faculty and a personal relationship with the seminarians. While rector he was named an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese and ordained bishop on Sept. 14, 2001. Named regional bishop for the west region, he remained as rector of the seminary and within one year he had visited almost every parish of his region.
Pope John Paul II named his apostolic administrator of the archdiocese in December 2002 and he took over the archdiocese, as he said in an interview on April 5 at his chancery office, “that was hurting, where there was anger and frustration and I tried to do my small part in moving us forward. I especially felt that my meeting with the priests was important.”
Following the appointment of Cardinal O’Malley as archbishop in July 2003, Bishop Lennon became vicar general and moderator of the curia overseeing the day to day operations of the central offices and agencies as well as the reconfiguration process.
When asked about his happiest time here in the archdiocese not surprisingly he answered, “My visits to the parishes, meeting the people and especially the priests. I love it. I’ve been to 230 of the parishes.”
Bishop Lennon’s fundamental approach to any of his assignments has been to begin with the parish as a model. Whether in a parish, in an office or a seminary he likes to meet people, get to know them and learn about their needs. He is genuinely committed to the people in whichever ministry has been entrusted to him.
Among his challenges he mentioned the “Vibrant Parish Life” process which is the Cleveland diocese’s ongoing plan for the more effective use of parish assets, lay personnel and priests. When asked about his diocesan major and minor seminaries, he smiled, surely recalling his years as St. John’s rector, “Yes. I’m looking forward to a more direct involvement again.”
Bishop Lennon said he “was surprised and honored” to be named by the Holy Father to such “an important and historic diocese with an active Catholic people, extensive Catholic Charities and large Catholic school population, especially on the high school level.”
Cardinal O’Malley, who was born in the Cleveland diocese, said: “We extend our heart-felt congratulations to Bishop Lennon at the announcement that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has named him the tenth Bishop of Cleveland. I wish to express my deep gratitude to Bishop Lennon for his 33 years of faithful service as priest and bishop to the people of the archdiocese of Boston. Bishop Lennon’s intellect, commitment and deep faith will be a grace and blessing for the diocese of Cleveland. We assure the Bishop of our continued prayers and best wishes as he begins this new ministry on behalf of the Church.”