Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 20 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions

Meet William Wack, a bishop with an unlikely vocation

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/24/17

More evidence that the best advertisement for the priesthood is a happy priest.

Here’s a nice profile in Crux of William Wack, bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee:

In May, Pope Francis named Wack the sixth bishop of the diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. While less than five percent of the population of his diocese is Catholic, Wack’s missionary zeal makes him eager to change those statistics. Meanwhile, at age 50, he’s the nation’s youngest bishop and quite happy to have been tasked with heading a manageable-sized diocese as his first episcopal assignment. Wack grew up in South Bend, Indiana, “in the shadow of the dome of Notre Dame,” as he described it in an interview with Crux. Raised in a devout Catholic family by his physician father and nurse mother, he is the second youngest of ten children – eight of whom are boys. While the family was actively engaged in parish life and he was an altar server as a child, the priesthood always seemed like an unlikely vocation. “I was terrified of doing anything with my voice,” Wack recalled. While his great uncle was Holy Cross priest, he initially balked at the idea of the priesthood. “I was willing to clean, set-up, or do anything, as long as I didn’t have to speak,” said Wack. Despite such fears, he eventually enrolled in the college seminary with the Congregation of Holy Cross at age eighteen. “There, I found my voice,” said Wack. “I found my vocation really.” After ordination, Wack’s first assignment was as a parish priest in Colorado Springs. It was there Wack learned to “have the smell of the sheep” as Francis has often challenged priests to do. Following three years in Colorado, Wack returned to South Bend where he worked as a campus minister and assistant vocations director. By his own account, Wack had fully embraced the priesthood – so much so that his joy and his example inspired his brother to enroll in the seminary. “He saw how happy I was and said that’s what I want,” said Wack. Today, he’s pleased to report his brother is also a Holy Cross priest.

Read it all.

UPDATE: The Crux story (and my original headline) noted that he is the youngest bishop in the United States. Several people, however, contacted me directly and took issue with that. A few mentioned Bishop Stephen Lopes, who heads the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter at the tender age of 42. Others mentioned the newly-minted Shawn McKnight, just named Bishop of Jefferson City at 49. Another reader mentioned Bishop Adam Parker, an auxiliary in Baltimore, who is 45. It’s probably fair to call Bishop Wack “the youngest officially installed ordinary of a diocese”—for now. Stay tuned. Pope Francis seems to like younger bishops. Any appointment at any moment could change everything.

Photo: Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Facebook page

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
Cerith Gardiner
12 Habits of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that every young adult...
Visalia CHURCH
J-P Mauro
The largest Catholic parish church in the US will soon be in Cali...
See More