Conventual Franciscan Friar will lead Lexington Diocese

Bishop-elect John Stowe
Bishop-elect John Stowe

Pope Francis appointed Conventual Franciscan Father John Stowe, 48, as the third Bishop of Lexington March 12. Bishop-elect Stowe is vicar provincial of the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Mount St. Francis, Ind., and rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio.

Conventual Franciscan Father James Kent, minister provincial of the province, welcomed the news of the bishop-elect’s appointment in a statement March 12.

“He is a man of deep faith and integrity, with a sharp and inquisitive intellect, all rooted in a genuine pastoral heart,” Father Kent said. “While we are saddened that he will no longer be able to share his many gifts with our Franciscan friars, we know that the Diocese of Lexington will be abundantly blessed.”

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz hailed the appointment of Bishop-elect Stowe as the third Bishop of Lexington and welcomed him to the Province of Louisville.

“Bishop-elect Stowe brings a strong spiritual presence, evidenced in his leadership at the Franciscan Shrine in Ohio, and a wealth of pastoral experience, including his service to the Latino community in El Paso, Texas,” Archbishop Kurtz wrote in a statement released by the chancery in Louisville.

The archbishop also said he would pledge his support and prayers to the bishop-elect and “for the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Lexington.”

Bishop-elect Stowe, who grew up in Lorain, Ohio, made his solemn profession as a Conventual Franciscan on Aug. 1, 1992, and was ordained Sept. 16, 1995.

Educated by Jesuits, he earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University in 1990; a master of divinity from Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, in 1993 and a licentiate in sacred theology from Jesuit School of Theology in 1995.

Following ordination, he served as associate pastor (1995-1997), administrator (1997-2000) and pastor (2000-2003) of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in El Paso, Texas. In the Diocese of El Paso, he also served as vicar general from 2003 to 2010 and chancellor from 2008 to 2010, while serving as administrator of Our Lady of the Valley Church.

During his time in El Paso, Bishop-elect Stowe taught in the Tepeyac Institute for lay ministry and in the permanent diaconate formation programs for the Dioceses of Las Cruces and El Paso. He also was active in community organizing with an organization named EPISO, the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization.

He was elected vicar provincial of the Conventual Franciscans and has served as rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation since 2010.

He succeeds Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, who was appointed bishop of Harrisburg, Penn., January 24, 2014.

The Diocese of Lexington is 16,423 square miles across 50 counties in Central and Eastern Kentucky with 63 parishes and has a total population of 1,588,319 people, of whom 48,000, or three percent, are Catholic.

The date and time of the ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Stowe has yet to be announced.

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