Harrisburg, Dauphin County -- "My job is not to be the show but to be able to introduce and to call forth the talents." A humble 66-year-old Most Reverend Ronald Gainer spoke at Friday's news conference in Dauphin County that introduced him as the new bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg. The announcement made for a busy day at Dot Ryan's Norwegian Township home near Pottsville. "I got more phone calls because I guess on account of being so close to him." The announcement that her friend was chosen for such a prestigious position in the church overcame Dot with emotion. "This is a wonderful day for Pottsville and especially Mary Queen of Peace," she sobbed.
Dot Ryan has known Bishop Gainer since he was a boy growing up in Pottsville and attending Mary Queen of Peace Church where she was also a parishioner. "He was very religious and I don't know there was just something you could see it in him." The Most Rev. Gainer was ordained a priest in 1973 and served in the Diocese of Allentown for three decades before becoming Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington in Kentucky in 2003. "We were all thrilled, excited, proud," said Dot.
In Dot's home, she proudly displays photographs of Most Rev. Gainer when he was a young priest and then later a bishop. "He feels like part of the family." Her daughter Donna Pugh added, "He considers us his family. We consider him our family."
Even while serving the Diocese of Lexington, Bishop Gainer still found time to come back to his native Pottsville and occasionally celebrate mass at his beloved Mary Queen of Peace Church before it closed. Meanwhile, Dot visited Bishop Gainer several times in Lexington during his time away from Pennsylvania. "I'm thrilled that he's getting closer to home but I'm going to miss going to Kentucky."
Dot and her family believe the quarter-million catholics in the Diocese of Harrisburg are blessed to have Bishop Gainer as their new leader. "He is really a devoted person," said Dot while her daughter, Donna, added "He loves the people if he knows them or if he doesn't know them."
Bishop Gainer will be formally installed as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg on March 19th.