Pope Francis names Fr. McKnight bishop of Jefferson City


Bishop-Elect Shawn McKnight, left, and the retiring Bishop John R. Gaydos at the press conference Tuesday at the Chancery in Jefferson City, Missouri. (Courtesy photo)

To be ordained on Feb. 6

Bishop-elect W. Shawn McKnight said at a press conference Tuesday morning that he is leaving the Diocese of Wichita, “which has nourished my faith and vocation as a priest, and has served as my home,” and is being given by Pope Francis “to you in service to God to teach, sanctify and shepherd the people of our local church.”
His appointment as the next bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, was announced Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
After thanking Pope Francis and others in the church hierarchy involved in his appointment, Bishop-elect McKnight talked about the shock the parishioners at Church of the Magdalen must be feeling and adding that they had been a blessing to him.
He said other than driving through on I-70, his visit was the first time he had been in the Diocese of Jefferson City. Being the first bishop of the diocese from outside of Kansas, Bishop-elect McKnight said he has a lot to learn.
“Your new bishop-elect eagerly anticipates the opportunities we will have over the coming weeks and months to get to know one another,” he said. “I am especially eager to learn how we are evangelizing those in our community, especially the youth, and how we are promoting a culture of vocations among them.”
Bishop-elect McKnight said in his 23 years as a priest he has spent more than half of them outside of the Diocese of Wichita studying, serving the Pontifical College Josephinum Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, or at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.
As a result, he has been able get to know a number of bishops throughout the country – including Bishop Gaydos. “I had the privilege of working closely with Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis, who served as the chairman of the (USCCB) committee I staffed. I look forward to working closely with Archbishop Carlson again as our metropolitan and in the Missouri Catholic Conference.”
After listing some points of interest after he is ordained bishop, such as nurturing the presbyterate, focusing on the pastoral care of the family, evangelization, and vocations promotion, Bishop-elect McKnight said he the faithful of the diocese will face the future together.
“In our time as a diocese there are a number of challenging pastoral issues we are facing, but we are not alone or without the help we need,” he said. “We have the deposit of faith, the communion of the church, and the charisms of the people of God. 
“We must discern the difficult issues facing our families, our cities and towns, state, country, and our world not as individuals but together as a church. And working together is what brings joy to my heart. I hope and pray that in being a bishop for you, you may tangibly see my personal faith and love for Christ, and for you his people.” 
The outgoing Bishop John R. Gaydos introduced Bishop-elect McKnight at the press conference.
“I have known Bishop-Elect McKnight for several years and I am extremely pleased that he will be the next Bishop of our beautiful Diocese of Jefferson City,” he said. “I know that you will give him a warm welcome and I believe you will soon begin to see what a great gift we are receiving in this dedicated priest as he prepares to take up his episcopal ministry in our midst.”
Bishop Gaydos is resigning because of health issues and because of his age.
Bishop-elect McKnight is scheduled to be ordained Tuesday, Feb. 6, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City.