Bishop-elect serves in a variety of roles

Father J. Mark Spalding
Father J. Mark Spalding

Record Staff Report

Bishop-elect J. Mark Spalding, who has been named the new bishop of the Diocese of Nashville, grew up on a farm in Kentucky where work, family and faith were priorities. 

Bishop-elect Spalding was born in Fredericktown, Ky., the eldest of three children. He grew up in Holy Trinity Church in Fredericktown and graduated from Bethlehem High School in Bardstown, Ky., in 1983.

The bishop-elect said in a statement Nov. 21 — the day Pope Francis named him the 12th bishop of Nashville — that his faith and vocation were “nurtured in the Kentucky Holy Land,” so he appreciates the “deep legacy of Catholicism in the Diocese of Nashville.”

Bishop-elect Spalding attended St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, the American College of Louvain in Belgium and the Catholic University of Louvain, where he earned a Licentiate of Canon Law in 1992. He was ordained as a priest in the Archdiocese of Louisville Aug. 3, 1991

Following his ordination, Bishop-elect Spalding served as associate pastor of the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky., from 1992-1996. During his service at St. Joseph, in 1993, he was named a part-time judge in the tribunal of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

He served from 1996 to 1998 as associate pastor of St. Augustine Church in Lebanon, Ky. From 1998 to 1999 he served as associate pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church.

Bishop-elect Spalding served as pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky., from 1999 to 2011. He served as pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Louisville from 2011 to present.

He was assigned as pastor of Holy Name Church in 2016, and continued as pastor of Holy Trinity.

Other assignments have included serving as chaplain at Bethlehem High School and Sacred Heart Academy as well as a presbyteral moderator of Holy Family and St. Boniface churches.

Bishop-elect Spalding served as judicial vicar and director of the Metropolitan Tribunal for the Archdiocese of Louisville from 1998 to 2011. In this role, Bishop-elect Spalding helped to resolve questions of justice, especially regarding marriage, according to the laws and teaching of the Catholic church. In 2011, he was named vicar general, a role in which he still serves. 

As vicar general, the bishop-elect fills in during the absence of Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz. During Archbishop Kurtz’s three-year tenure as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop-elect Spalding filled-in at liturgical events while the archbishop was traveling.

In 2016, Bishop-elect Spalding was one of the priests selected by Pope Francis to be a “missionary of mercy” during the Year of Mercy. The bishop-elect traveled to Rome, where he and hundreds of priests received the Holy Father’s mandate to be “signs and instruments of God’s pardon.”

Bishop-elect Spalding said during an interview with The Record Nov. 21 that God has always worked in his life.

“Sometimes I didn’t understand how God was working, but in time I did see his hand guiding me, leading, encouraging, challenging me to be more in the world,” he said.

He feels, he said, that being named Bishop of Nashville is one more such occasion where God is working in and through him.

The Record
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