Diocese of Steubenville has new bishop

STEUBENVILLE – Approximately 1,800 people watched Monday afternoon as Jeffrey M. Monforton, a former Michigan seminary rector and parish priest was ordained and installed as the fifth bishop of the 13-county Catholic Diocese of Steubenville.

The three-hour ceremony was held in the Finnegan Fieldhouse on the Franciscan University of Steubenville campus.

“I am grateful to be your shepherd,” Monforton told the large audience at the end of the ceremony. “Our faith is meant to be proclaimed and to be shared. I am delighted to be your bishop. I am yours.”

Monforton was named to replace former Bishop R. Daniel Conlon on July 3, nearly one year after Conlon was named bishop of the Joliet, Ill., diocese. The new spiritual leader for 38,000 Catholics in eastern Ohio was ordained to the priesthood in Detroit in 1994. He served as the personal secretary to Cardinal Adam Maida from 1998 to 2005.

Monforton was rector/president of the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit from 2006 to 2012. He was appointed pastor of a parish in Rochester, Mich. earlier this year.

“My first priority as bishop of Steubenville will be the salvation of souls. I also want to make sure our parishes are strong. And I want to look at our media. I want to broaden our approach. I have a smartphone, but I don’t have time for Facebook or Twitter. I also believe education is essential. I also believe there is a need for social outreach in the diocese,” cited Monforton.

Diocesan spokeswoman Pat DeFrancis said two cardinals, 25 bishops and 115 priests as well as the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano attended the ceremony. Retired Bishop Gilbert Sheldon as well as Conlon were present, along with Bishop Roger Foys of the Covington, Ky., Diocese. Retired Bishop Albert Ottenweller could not attend but sent a greeting to the new bishop.

“We have a 100-voice diocesan-wide choir who sang during the Mass under the direction of Matthew Berher,” added DeFrancis.

According to the Rev. Thomas A. Chillog, episcopal vicar for pastoral planning and personnel for the diocese and a member of the planning committee, “We are all excited to have a new shepherd. The ordination-installation was a momentous occasion. It was a ceremony filled with great historic importance.

“Today was spirit filled, uplifting and full of hope and joy,” added Chillog, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in St. Clairsville.

DeFrancis said buses filled with Catholic parishioners came to Steubenville Monday from throughout the diocese as well as from the Detroit diocese.

Monforton will be leaving Wednesday for Rome, where he will attend a school and conference for new bishops, said DeFrancis.

The new bishop indicated he will start visiting Catholic parishes in all 13 counties as soon as possible.