Indianapolis auxiliary bishop appointed to head Vermont diocese

Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Washington — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne of Indianapolis to head the diocese of Burlington, Vt.

Coyne, 56, succeeds Bishop Salvatore Matano, who was installed in January 2013 as the ninth bishop of Rochester, N.Y.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment Monday in Washington.

Coyne, 56, has been an auxiliary bishop in Indianapolis since 2011 and was the archdiocesan vicar general. Most recently, he has had special responsibilities in three deaneries of the archdiocese and been administrator at two parishes.

He will be installed Jan. 29 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.

In a statement, Coyne said, "I am grateful to Pope Francis for his confidence in me in appointing me to Burlington. Personally, I could not be happier to be assigned here and look forward to returning to my native New England."

He added, "While I will miss the great people of Indiana and all of my friends there, I am ready to commit myself fully to the work of the Catholic Church here in Vermont."

"While I am delighted for Bishop Coyne and the diocese that has been entrusted to his pastoral care, I shall miss his companionship and personal gifts," said Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis. "I know that all the members of the archdiocese join me in thanking God for his unselfish labor as archdiocesan administrator and auxiliary bishop."

Msgr. John McDermott, who has been apostolic administrator of the Burlington diocese since last January, noted: "The priests, religious and laity of the Diocese of Burlington have been praying all year for this announcement. We are grateful to Pope Francis for sending us Bishop Coyne, a shepherd with such a wealth of experience and a commitment to proclaiming joyfully the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Pope Benedict XVI appointed then-Father Coyne as an auxiliary bishop for Indianapolis on Jan. 14, 2011. Archbishop Daniel Buechlein ordained him a bishop March 2 of that year. Coyne was the first auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese since 1933.

Coyne dedicated much of his time to administrative ministry in Indianapolis after Buechlein suffered a stroke and was granted an early retirement in the fall of 2011.

Born June 17, 1958, in Woburn, Mass., Coyne was ordained a priest of the Boston archdiocese June 7, 1986. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, a master's of divinity from St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Mass., and a licentiate and a doctorate in liturgy from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome's St. Anselm University.

He was parochial vicar of St. Mary of the Hills in Milton, Mass., before pursuing his studies in Rome. He also has been pastor of Our Lady of Help of Christians in Newton, Mass. From 2006 until his appointment to Indianapolis, he was pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Westwood, Mass.

During his time as a priest in Boston, he also was a professor of liturgy and homiletics, the director of Office of Worship and spokesman for the Boston archdiocese.

In November, Coyne was chosen chairman-elect of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Communications.

Having kept a dedicated daily presence on both Facebook and Twitter for a current 10,000 followers, as well as producing a regular podcast, the bishop's outreach has been featured on NBC's "Today" show and in the nationally broadcast coverage of the Indianapolis 500, at which he delivered the pre-race invocation for the past three years.

Coyne is among the planned speakers for a daylong symposium June 7 in St. Louis prior to the start of the U.S. bishops' spring meeting there, marking the 10th anniversary of the bishops' pastoral statement "Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord."

Established in 1853, the Burlington diocese is home to 118,000 Catholics and comprises the entire state of Vermont. It has 73 parishes, 75 diocesan priests, 40 religious order priests, 43 permanent deacons and 86 women religious who minister in the diocese.

[The staff of The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis archdiocese, contributed to this story.]

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