Today, we join the 38,000 Catholics of Eastern Ohio in welcoming Jeffrey Marc Monforton as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville.
Monforton, who was ordained Monday during a ceremony at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, finds himself as the leader of a diocese the faces many challenges, including a sluggish economy, declining enrollment in its schools and a fall in church attendance.
Those concerns are real, but there is hope in that much of the diocese lies in the part of Ohio that figures to benefit economically from drilling for oil and gas in the Utica and Marcellus shale formations. Our area already is feeling the financial impact from that industry.
The new bishop also will have to face questions about the fate of the planned Triumph of the Cross Cathedral, which was to have been built in front of Catholic Central High School.
Monforton, 49, follows in a line that began in 1947 when John King Mussio become the diocese's first bishop. Following Mussio as bishop were Albert Ottenweller, Gilbert I. Sheldon and R. Daniel Conlon, who left Steubenville in 2011 to become the bishop of Springfield, Ill.
The 13-county diocese Monforton now leads is in good condition thanks to the efforts of many, including Monsignor Kurt Kemo, pastor of Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes in Wintersville, who has served as diocesan administrator since Conlon left for his new position.
Monforton brings a solid background to his position, having served as a seminary rector and parish priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He set the tone for the diocese when he said to the faithful near the end of Monday's ceremony, "Our faith is meant to be proclaimed and to be shared. I am delighted to be your bishop. I am yours."
We wish Monforton well in his role as the leader of the Diocese of Steubenville.