‘Led by the grace of God, I look forward to serving’ in Tennessee

Father Mark Spalding, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, was announced as the 12th Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville, Tenn. on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. He spoke to members of the diocese and the media during a press conference at Cathedral of the Incarnation on Tuesday morning. (Photo Special to The Record by Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

Bishop-elect J. Mark Spalding, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, was announced as the 12th Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville, Tenn. on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. (Photo Special to The Record by Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

Bishop-elect J. Mark Spalding issued the following statement Nov. 21, the day the Holy Father named him Bishop of Nashville.

I am humbled by the confidence of our Holy Father, Pope Francis and deeply grateful for his support in naming me the twelfth bishop of the Diocese of Nashville. Led by the grace of God, I look forward to serving the people of Nashville with my brother priests, as together we seek to live and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. I eagerly anticipate getting to know the priests, deacons, consecrated religious, seminarians, and lay faithful of this local Church and ask for your prayers as I begin this ministry.

As one whose faith and vocation was nurtured in the “Kentucky Holy Land” in one of the oldest dioceses in the United States, I appreciate the deep legacy of Catholicism in the Diocese of Nashville, the first diocese established in the state of Tennessee and the second oldest diocese in the Province of Louisville. I am honored to participate in this legacy and to continuing the ministry of Bishop David Choby, whose joyful and humble pastoral leadership graced this diocese for the past decade. I also extend deep thanks to Father Michael Johnston, who has administered the diocese since Bishop Choby’s death in June of this year.

Since my ordination in 1991, I have served with so many wonderful priests, deacons, religious, and lay ministers, and I have learned so much from the parishes I served. I love being a pastor and being present to parishioners in times of great joy and sorrow. I treasure preaching the joy of the Gospel and celebrating Mass and the other sacraments. I will miss my home in Kentucky but look forward with great anticipation to my new home as pastor of the Diocese of Nashville. 

I am very grateful to Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, and the late Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, O.P., who ordained me. Both of these men, along with my brother priests from the Archdiocese of Louisville, the Most Reverend William Medley, Bishop of Owensboro and Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, Archbishop of Indianapolis, are valued mentors and models of pastoral leadership. I appreciate Archbishop Kurtz’s confidence in me and the experience of serving as his Vicar General since 2011, and I am pleased that I will remain in the Province of Louisville. I also appreciate the guidance and support of Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who has been so helpful since my appointment.

My family has always been my anchor. I know my dear mother is celebrating in heaven, and I appreciate the love and support of my father and my siblings and their spouses and children.

The wonderful parishioners whom I have served know of my constant reminder to them and to myself:  “To whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48).  I pledge to demand much from myself as I work with the priests, deacons, consecrated religious, seminarians, and lay faithful of the Diocese of Nashville to inspire a zeal for the Gospel, serve those in need, promote vocations, provide lifelong formation through strong Catholic schools and parish formation programs, call forth the gifts of our youth and youth adults, provide a place of welcome for persons of every race, culture, and language, and support families in their vocation as schools of love.

As we approach Advent, I am reminded of our Blessed Mother Mary’s visit to Saint Elizabeth and her beautiful hymn of praise, the Magnificat. In it, she recalls God’s work through salvation history. God favors the humble servant and never fails to be with the oppressed and the alienated. The forgotten of the world never leave His heavenly gaze. As I seek to be such a humble servant for the Church, it is from this hymn that I take my episcopal motto: “God has lifted up the lowly.” With God’s grace and Mary’s yes as my guide, I will seek always to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Memorial of the Presentation of
the Blessed Virgin Mary

J. Mark Spalding,
Bishop-elect of the
Diocese of Nashville

November 21, 2017

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