Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Un Otro Joven Obispo

This morning, a Chicago-born priest became Pope Benedict's newest fortysomething appointment with the naming of Msgr Daniel Fernández Torres as auxiliary bishop of San Juan. The 42 year-old cleric is the first new auxiliary given the Puerto Rican capital since 1981.

Until now a parish pastor in the diocese of Arecibo, for which he was ordained in 1995, Fernández studied for the priesthood in Spain after taking his bachelor's in engineering from the University of Puerto Rico. After ordination, he earned a licentiate in dogmatic theology at the Gregorian in Rome.

Since returning to the island, Fernández has served in varied capacities, including stints as a seminary rector, diocesan director of youth ministry, and as academic dean at San Juan's major seminary.

Intriguingly, the bishop-elect was given the titular see of Sufes, which has been vacant since the May 2006 promotion of its last occupant, then-Auxiliary Bishop Richard Lennon of Boston, to the diocese of Cleveland. Like Lennon, Fernández will share in the episcopal lineage of Cardinal Bernard Law via the new bishop's principal consecrator: Archbishop Roberto González OFM of San Juan, who was ordained a Boston auxiliary by Law in 1988.

As the decennial (and then some) CELAM plenary approaches later this year, the leader of San Juan's million-plus Catholics will have a key role in the mega-assembly of the Latin American bishops. Pope Benedict will travel to the Marian shrine of Aparecida in Brazil to open the gathering in mid-May.