HARRISBURG — The Diocese of Harrisburg has a new bishop.
In a statement released Friday, Pope Francis has appointed Most Rev. Ronald Gainer, 66, as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg. He succeeds Bishop Joseph McFadden who died last May.
Bishop Ronald Gainer has served as the bishop of Lexington, Kentucky for the last 11 years but now he’s back home in central Pennsylvania. He says he has a lot to learn about the Diocese of Harrisburg but Bishop Gainer believes being a native of Schuylkill County will help him adjust.
Bishop Ronald Gainer was introduced as the new leader of the Diocese of Harrisburg by the current diocesan administrator Rev. Robert Gillelan.
“I am humbled and most grateful.”
It is a homecoming for Bishop Gainer who served as the bishop of Lexington for the last 11 years. Gainer was born and raised in Pottsville, and served the Diocese of Allentown for almost 30 years. He says he is delighted to be back in Pennsylvania.
“I cherish my roots as a coal cracker and as a son of Pottsville, Mary Queen of Hearts grade school and Nativity High School. I’m very fond of Pottsville and Schuylkill County,” Bishop Gainer said.
The new bishop has a sense of humor. When asked about coming back to Pennsylvania he joked, “Well, I have greater access to Yuengling, first of all!”
This bishop also has a very serious side. During his introduction, Bishop Gainer remembered his predecessor the late Bishop Joseph McFadden. The former leader of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Joseph McFadden, died suddenly last May.
“I hold him in great reverence and I continue to join with you in praying for Bishop McFadden.”
Bishop Gainer says he looks forward to serving the Diocese of Harrisburg which includes Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties. He also says he has a lot to learn about the strengths and challenges of the local church.
“I think I’ll hear with the ears and the heart in some sense of a hometown boy.”
Bishop Gainer added he is looking forward to meeting the parishioners in the Diocese of Harrisburg. He says he does not hide behind a desk or lock himself in his office. He actually said, “Watch out I might walk through your office!”
Bishop Gainer will be installed in the Diocese of Harrisburg on March 19.