POTTSVILLE -- During his introduction Friday as the new bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Bishop Ronald Gainer spoke very highly of the coal region and he said he is very proud to be from Schuylkill County.
Ed Tray is a teacher at Nativity B.V.M. High School in Pottsville, the same school where he and Bishop Ronald Gainer graduated in 1965. Hearing that his friend will be running the Diocese of Harrisburg brings back memories.
“He was an excellent student and took a lot of awards at school. We had a very big class that year, we had 350 students who graduated and Ron took a lot of awards at graduation,” Tray said.
Fr. David Karns was also in the same graduating class as Bishop Gainer.
“There was a lot of good times there, joking around and having fun together said Fr. Karns. “He didn't get in any trouble and all that kind of stuff, sometimes I did but he was a straight shooter.”
Fr. Leo Maletz says he and a young Ronald Gainer entered the seminary together right out of high school. The new assignment means Bishop Gainer will be closer to home.
“He's coming from Lexington which is an Appalachian diocese and he’s constantly reaching out to the poor. He goes to the poorest of his parishes.”
Bishop Gainer is a Pottsville native. A lot of information on his family can be found in the historical society of Schuylkill County including Gainer's high school year book.
“In ’65, I found the bishop in that particular book and I found his yearbook picture in two different places,” said Peter Yasenchak at the Historical Society of Schuylkill County.
Ronald Gainer grew up in a home on Prospect Street in Pottsville.
He said he looks forward to meeting the parishioners of the Diocese of Harrisburg. He also says he knows he has a lot to learn about the strengths and challenges of the church but he believes he will hear with the ears and the heart of a hometown boy.
Bishop Gainer will be installed as the new bishop of Harrisburg on March 19.