ALLENTOWN, LEHIGH COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Pope Francis has appointed Diocese of Allentown Bishop John O. Barres as the next Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY, which consists of Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. The announcement was publicized this morning by the Papal Nuncio to the United States Archbishop Christophe Pierre.
Bishop Barres, 56, is the first Bishop of Allentown in the diocese’s 55 year history to be transferred to another diocese. The Rockville Centre Diocese, established in 1957, is the sixth largest diocese by Catholic population in the United States. It serves 1.5 million Catholics with 291 active priests (diocesan and extern) in 133 parishes.
Bishop Barres will succeed Bishop William Murphy, 76, who has led the Rockville Centre Diocese since 2001. Bishop Murphy turned 75 in May 2015 and submitted his letter of resignation at that time as required by church law. The Pope accepted Bishop Murphy’s resignation today.
Bishop Barres will be introduced to his new diocese when he concelebrates morning Mass with Bishop Murphy at the Cathedral of Saint Agnes in Rockville Centre.
Bishop Barres has been shepherd of the Diocese of Allentown since July 2009. In a statement on his new appointment, Bishop Barres said, “I must…thank the priests and the entire people of God of the Diocese of Allentown, where I have had the great blessing of serving as bishop for the last seven-and-a-half years. You will all always be in my heart, my memories, my prayers and my Masses as I remember our days of ‘holiness and mission’ together.”
Bishop Barres will be installed as the new Bishop of Rockville Centre at the cathedral there on January 31. Until that date, he will serve as the Diocesan Administrator for the Diocese of Allentown. Upon his installation, the Diocese of Allentown’s College of Consultors, a group of ten senior priests, will elect an Administrator who will serve until a new bishop is installed.