A New Dehonian Bishop

A New Dehonian Bishop

It all started with a telephone call from the Holy Father, Pope Francis a few months ago. Can you just imagine it?

That initial conversation between our now former superior general, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, SCJ and Pope Francis led to the celebration of Fr. Heiner’s ordination as Bishop of the Diocese of Hildesheim, Germany on September 1st.

It was an event that was so large that they needed three churches to host everyone for the ordination -two with large video screens to simulcast the ceremony. Dehonians from all over the world came to northern Germany to take part in the festivities.  These guests only added more to the religious and lay people from the Diocese who wanted to see their new bishop!

Once the ordination was completed, the celebration moved outdoors for a festive gathering with traditional German food and music, with tubas, and good German Beer.

Fr. Jan de Jong, SCJ, retired President-Rector of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, represented the US Province. He is shown with Bishop Heiner in the picture below.

Bishop Heiner and Fr. Jan

This isn’t the first time that a Dehonian has been chosen to lead a diocese. There have been many SCJ Bishops over the years. Former superior general, Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, SCJ now the Bishop of Setubal, Portugal was one of the concelebrants of the Mass along with our new superior general Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniu, SCJ.   The US Province also has a retired bishop in our community in Florida, Bp. Joseph Potocnak, SCJ who served for many years in South Africa.

Bishop Wilmer was provincial superior of the German Province before he was elected superior general in 2015. He was born in 1961 in Germany and took his first vows in 1982 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1987.   He has had vast experience in education, teaching in Germany and even New York City. True to his Dehonian spirit, he has worked in the barrios of Caracas, Venezuela, as a chaplain for persons with disabilities in Toronto and well as in prison ministry in Germany. At his heart, he will remain a Dehonian. His coat-of-arms prominently displays the Dehonian cross that you see in our mailings.

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