Pope Francis has transferred Bishop Edward Joseph Weisenburger from the Diocese of Salina to the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, according to a media release.
The Holy See made the announcement Tuesday in Rome. Weisenburger was notified last week by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pierre Christophe, that Pope Francis was entrusting to him the pastoral care of the good people of the Diocese of Tucson.
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, sixth Bishop of Tucson, submitted his resignation in accord with Church law upon reacing his 75th birthday. He will serve as the administrator of the Diocese until Weisenburger’s installation. Weisenburger’s appointment comes more than a year after Kicanas’ offered his retirement. In light of Kicanas good health and exceptional service, it is not surprising that the Holy See extended his tenure for an extra year. Weisenburger stated “I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of a shepherd who has served graciously and generously for many years. Bishop Kicanas has served in many national capacities for the Catholic Church and is highly esteemed. Knowing that he will continue to reside in our Diocese is a great comfort for me and a blessing for our people.”
Weisenburger served as a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City for almost 25 years. On Feb. 6, 2012, he was appointed Bishop of Salina by Pope Benedict XVI. His ordination, which marked the beginning of his ministry, was on May 1, 2012, at Salina’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. His installation as Bishop of Tucson will take place on Nov. 29, 2017.
While the Catholic people in the Diocese of Salina find it an honor that their beloved bishop has been selected to serve as the Bishop of Tucson, they are saddened to see him leave. Under his leadership, the people of Salina has witnessed many significant improvements. Weisenburger’s five and one-half year tenure in the Salina Diocese was marked by the opening of a new Diocesan Catholic Charities headquarterswith considerably upgraded ministries and services. He also has led the efforts to shine a spotlight on the cruel abuse of the poor at the hands of the predatory (“payday”) loan industry. In addition to Catholic social ministries he also focused his energy on personal visits to the 86 parishes of the Salina Diocese, vocation recruitment, higher education for clergy, cooperation with Via Christi-Ascension in their acquisition of Manhattan’s hospital — now Catholic in identity. .He also restructured the Diocese’s chancery with an emphasis on professional lay ministers collaborating with clergy in all areas of administration, which included dedication in promoting women to greater responsibilities and service within the diocesan structure.
The Diocese of Salina serves approximately 44,000 Catholics. The Diocese of Tucson, which borders with Mexico, serves approximately 450,000 Catholics, many of whom are Spanish-speaking. While not fully fluent, Weisenburger does enjoy a working knowledge of Spanish and has always treasured his ministry with the Hispanic community. Weisenburger also has an intense concern and love for the wellbeing of migrants, refugees, and immigrant peoples. He is humbled by Pope Francis’ appointment and hopes to join with the bishops of Arizona and New Mexico in being an articulate and indispensable voice of compassion for all immigrants.
Edward Weisenburger was born in Alton, Ill. on Dec. 23, 1960, to Edward John Weisenburger and Asella (Walters) Weisenburger, the third of their four surviving children. His father was a military officer and his mother a homemaker. Weisenburger grew up primarily in Lawton, Okla., where he graduated from high school in 1979. He attended Conception Seminary College in Missouri, graduating with honors in 1983. He then attended the American College Seminary at the Catholic University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium, earning the Pontifical S.T.B. in Theology, an M.A. in Religious Studies, and a Masters in Moral and Religious Sciences. In the spring of 1987 he returned to Oklahoma and began three years of ministry at St. Mary Church in Ponca City, Okla.. On Dec. 19, 1987 he was ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oklahoma City by The Most Reverend Charles A. Salatka, Archbishop of Oklahoma City.
Weisenburger attended the University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Canada from 1990 – 1992, earning the pontifical J.C.L. degree in canon law. Upon his return home he was appointed Vice-chancellor and Adjutant Judicial Vicar. In addition to chancery and tribunal duties he also did weekend parish and prison ministries from 1992 to 1995 and served as an on-site chaplain for rescue workers in the weeks following the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. In the fall of 1995 he began 17 years of service on the Council of Priests and the College of Consulters. He likewise served as a member of the Seminarian Board for 15 years. In June of 1996 he was appointed Vicar General of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese. He was an officer with the Archdiocesan Tribunal for almost 20 years and served as Promoter of Justice for the cause of canonization of Blessed Stanley Francis Rother. On October 2, 2009 he was appointed a Prelate of Honor to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, with the title Reverend Monsignor. Bishop Weisenburger served as pastor of two parishes: Holy Trinity in Okarche, Okla. (1995-2002) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oklahoma City (2002-2012).
On Feb. 6, 2012, Weisenburger was appointed Bishop of Salina, Kan., by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. He was ordained a bishop at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Salina, on May 1, 2012, with the Most Reverend Joseph Naumann, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kansas City presiding. Co-consecraters were the Most Reverend Eusebius J. Beltran, Archbishop Emeritus of Oklahoma City, and the Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City. On Oct. 3, 2017, Weisenburger was appointed Bishop of Tucson by His Holiness, Pope Francis I.
Weisenburger enjoys membership in the Knights of Columbus as well as the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Conception Seminary College as well as the national Catholic Rural Life organization. When time permits he enjoys reading and occasional travel.
Bishop Weisenburger’s mother died on March 22, 1998, and his father died on Dec. 22, 2013. The Bishop’s siblings include a sister, Mrs. Mary Jung of Yukon, Okla. (her husband Don Jung, their three children and five grandchildren); a sister, Mrs. Adina Heller of Corinth, Texas (her husband Karl Heller and their two children); a brother, Mr. Timothy J. Weisenburger (and his wife Donna) of Pittsburgh, Penn.; former sister-in-law Mary Weisenburger of Houston, Texas (and their son); and a sister who died at birth, Catherine Weisenburger.