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Diocese of Portland’s new bishop hailed for humility

Father James T. Ruggieri, new bishop of Portland

News Center Maine | Fair Use via YouTube

J-P Mauro - published on 02/19/24

Pope Francis has named former pastor Father James T. Ruggieri as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, to be installed in May.

The Diocese of Portland, Maine, will be under new leadership come May. Pope Francis has appointed Father James T. Ruggieri, a priest of the Diocese of Providence, as the 13th bishop of Portland. He will replace outgoing Bishop Robert Peter Deeley, 77, who has served the only diocese in Maine since 2013

Bishop Deeley will continue to lead the Diocese of Portland until Bishop-Elect Ruggieri’s ordination and installation ceremony, on May 7, 2024. According to Rhode Island Catholic, the diocesan newspaper of Bishop-Elect Ruggieri’s native Diocese of Providence – where he was born, raised, and has practiced his ministry since he was ordained a priest, in 1995 – the ceremony will take place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine.

The Diocese of Portland, established by Pope Pius IX, in 1853, is the only Catholic diocese in Maine, and covers the whole state. There, the former parish priest will now be responsible for a flock of an estimated 275,000. In the Rhode Island Catholic report, Bishop Richard G. Henning, of Providence, hailed the decision to elevate Ruggieri: 

“In my brief time in Providence, I have come to appreciate and admire Father Ruggieri’s personal humility, authenticity, and remarkably fruitful priestly ministry. That ministry has wide-reaching effects upon the people and clergy of this diocese. For these reasons, among others, I see the wisdom of the Holy Father’s choice even as I feel the pang of the loss to us. I know that we will rejoice with Bishop James Ruggieri and send him to his new mission with our prayers and support.”

At the presser announcing the coming ordination, featured below, Bishop-Elect Ruggieri displayed this humility and authenticity when he took the podium. The bishop-to-be still seemed a bit shocked to have been selected as the new Bishop of Portland, but he beamed with excitement over the coming challenges. He said: 

“When I heard about the appointment I said ‘Wow this is big.’ I said ‘I’m just a pastor!’ but I loved what you said, Bishop Deeley. Hopefully as a pastor, I’ll make a good bishop. I’ll try my best. I’ll try my best.” 

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