“I’m thrilled to receive this new appointment as bishop of Winona-Rochester … I’d humbly ask for prayers.”

— Bishop Robert Barron

After a flurry of reports — beginning with a Tweet by Rocco Palmo that set the interwebs ablaze Wednesday afternoon — the Vatican confirmed the news this morning.

From Angelus News: 

Pope Francis has named Bishop Robert E. Barron the next bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota, transferring him from the Santa Barbara pastoral region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where he has served as an auxiliary bishop for nearly seven years.

“I’m thrilled to receive this new appointment as bishop of Winona-Rochester,” Bishop Barron told Angelus Thursday morning. “I look forward to meeting the people and priests of this diocese. I’ll certainly miss LA, especially the good people of the Santa Barbara pastoral region.  I’d ask humbly for prayers.”

The appointment was announced by the Vatican at noon today in Rome (3 a.m. Los Angeles time).

The 62-year-old Chicago native will succeed Bishop John M. Quinn, who in December 2020 turned 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope. Bishop Barron is expected to be formally installed as bishop of the diocese sometime in the coming months.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles praised Bishop Barron as “a man of prayer, with a fine intellect and a beautiful zeal to spread the love of Jesus Christ.”

“I am certain that he will be a great shepherd for the family of God in Winona-Rochester,” said Archbishop Gomez, who ordained Barron a bishop in 2015 at the age of 55, together with the two other so-called “triplets” named auxiliary bishops for Los Angeles at the time, David G. O’Connell and Joseph Brennan. “I am very grateful for his service here in the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region over these past several years.”

“Personally, I am going to miss him, and so will the people of Santa Barbara and all of us in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” Archbishop Gomez continued. “Entrusting him to the tender care of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I wish him all God’s blessings in his new appointment.”

Bishop Barron issued the following statement through Word on Fire: 

Friends, I am overjoyed and humbled to learn that Pope Francis has appointed me the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester (Minnesota).

The bishop of a diocese is, first and foremost, a spiritual father to the priests and people who have been entrusted to his care. My prayer this morning is that the Lord will give me the grace always to be a good father. The bishop is also, as Pope Francis often teaches, a shepherd with the smell of the sheep—out in front of the flock in one sense, leading the way, but also with the flock, giving encouragement, and in back of the flock in order to gather in those who have fallen behind. I pray also for the grace to be just that kind of shepherd to the Catholics of southern Minnesota.

It has been an extraordinary privilege these past seven years to serve as auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where the priests and people received me, from the beginning, with warmth and enthusiasm, and where I had the good fortune to observe close up the ministry of Archbishop Jose Gomez, one of the great churchmen on the scene today. Watching him govern the largest Archdiocese in the country was a master-class in ecclesial leadership. It is with real sadness in my heart that I take leave of the good people of the Santa Barbara pastoral region. Together, we made our way through fire, flood, mudslides, and COVID, and I will never forget your kindness to me and never cease to draw strength from your faith.

Many might be wondering what this means for the important work of Word on Fire. The short answer is that it will certainly continue! Through our gifted staff, we will keep bringing you regular videos, interviews, articles, sermons, and daily reflections. We will press forward with the Word on Fire Institute, the Word on Fire Bible series, the Liturgy of the Hours initiative, our many books and YouTube shows, and more exciting things coming down the pipeline.

I am grateful to all of you who follow and support Word on Fire, using our content to form yourselves and share the Catholic Faith. I thank God each and every day for you. It is a blessing for me to work with you to introduce people to Jesus Christ and invite them to share all the gifts he wants his people to enjoy.

Please pray for me as I begin this new adventure under the Lord’s providence, and pray for the all the good people of the Winona-Rochester diocese.