Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday named Miami Auxiliary Bishop John Noonan as the fifth Bishop of Orlando's Roman Catholic diocese.
Noonan, 59, has been auxiliary bishop of Miami since 2005. Although the appointment is effective immediately, Noonan's official installation Mass as leader of the diocese will be Dec. 16.
On Saturday at Orlando's Holy Family Catholic Church, where he was attending a conference on the role of the Virgin Mary in prayer, Noonan said he is grateful for the opportunity to work in Orlando.
"I've worked as a priest in Miami for almost 30 years, so this is a new place to explore, to learn, to grow," he said. "There's a lot of excitement."
John Gerard Noonan, a native of Limerick, Ireland, was the only child of John Noonan and Margaret Purcell.
He has a B.A. from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and a master's degree in divinity from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He also studied at Fordham University in Bronx, N.Y., and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Miami in 1983.
He also has a master's degree in education from Boston College.
He speaks Spanish – learned mostly "on the streets of Miami," he said -- and is a member of the Bishops' Conference Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, according to the Vatican.
Noonan's professional life has included the job of a typical parish priest as well as administrative work for schools and the Miami archdiocese. He served as vicar of a parish in Pompano Beach, chaplain of youth ministry for Broward County, a dean at St. John Vianney College Seminary and supervising principal of two high schools.
The website of the Miami archdiocese describes Noonan as "a priest's priest" who is known for his service to others, cooking dinners for his fellow priests on Sunday afternoons -- and for playing the occasional prank.
Noonan said Saturday that he was looking forward to getting to know the Orlando diocese and its half-million Catholics.
"I don't see any immediate things I'm going to be worried about," he said, praising the efforts of his predecessor, Bishop Thomas Wenski, who was named in April to lead the Archdiocese of Miami after six years in Orlando.
Wenski said Saturday that he was very happy for the diocese he spent six years leading.
"The Church of Miami, of course, will miss him – and in the short time that I have been back in Miami as its new Archbishop, Bishop Noonan was a good friend and a valuable collaborator of mine," he said in a prepared statement.
Since Wenski's departure, the Rev. Richard Walsh, who is pastor of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park, has served as the administrator for the diocese.
Anika Myers Palm can be reached at 407-420-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A LOOK AT BISHOP NOONAN'S PREDECESSOR, THOMAS WENSKICopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun