This morning's appointment of Milwaukee auxiliary Bishop William Callahan, OFM Conv., as the new bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, completes a game of episcopal musical chairs that was set into motion in early 2009 with the appointment of then-Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan to New York.
Upon Dolan's vacating, Bishop Callahan was made temporary administrator of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, meaning he was in charge until the appointment of a new archbishop. This person turned out to be then-Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse, whom Pope Benedict appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee in November of 2009. La Crosse has been without a bishop ever since.
Now, a mere seven months after losing its bishop to Milwaukee, La Crosse is taking a bishop away from Milwaukee, and Bishop Callahan goes from being an auxiliary to the head of a diocese.
Nationwide, this appointment leaves four U.S. dioceses vacant, that is, without bishop ordinaries. By length of vacancy, they are:
-- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, since the November 2009 appointment of Bishop Kevin Rhoades to Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana.
-- San Antonio, Texas, since the April 2010 appointment of Archbishop Jose Gomez as Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles.
-- Orlando, Florida, since the April 2010 appointment of then-Bishop Thomas Wenski as Archbishop of Miami.
-- Ruthenian (Eastern Rite) Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, since yesterday's death of Archbishop Basil Schott at the age of 70.
Along with this list, another five U.S. bishops are serving past the retirement age of 75:
-- Archbishop Alexander Brunett of Seattle, age 76
-- Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington, age 76
-- Archbishop Eusebius Beltran of Oklahoma City, age 75
-- Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, age 75
-- Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah, Georgia, age 75
Our prayers are with the late Archbishop Schott, the Eastern rite Catholics of Pittsburgh and beyond, all Catholics who wait to welcome a new bishop, and the bishops themselves.