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Faithful Happy over Announcement of New Bishop

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ALLENTOWN -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown, which serves Carbon and Schuylkill Counties, has a new bishop.

The bishop-elect spoke at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Siena in Allentown after the announcement came from the Vatican.

Monsignor Schlert is the first priest from the diocese to be chosen to serve as bishop.

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Lehighton is part of the Diocese of Allentown. Fr. Mike Ahrensfield is happy with the decision.

"He has the knowledge and is very educated. He has worked with the diocese as the vicar general and he knows the diocese and that is what you need," said Fr. Ahrensfield.

Bishop-elect Schlert will replace Bishop John Barres who moved to a diocese on Long Island about six months ago.

Monsignor Schlert is from the Lehigh Valley.

Fr. James Ward from Immaculate Conception parish in Jim Thorpe has known him for years.

"It's a small diocese and therefore most of the priests know everyone else. I have known him for a number of years. I am very happy to see it. He's been a priest of this diocese all his life," said Fr. Ward.

People we spoke to believe Bishop-elect Schlert is a good fit for a number of reasons but the biggest is because he came from within the Diocese of Allentown and is familiar with churches in Carbon County.

"Personally, I think it's a great idea. The pope is doing a wonderful thing with this because there are so many things happening within the Diocese of Allentown. Between closures, with movements around, but Monsignor Schlert is just going to, he's going to have a good feel for it," said Rita Mroz of Jim Thorpe.