U.S. Conference Elects Bishop Skylstad President

Cardinal George Selected for No. 2 Spot

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WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The nation’s Catholic bishops elected Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane to a three-year term as president of the U.S. episcopal conference.

Also today, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was elected to a three-year term as vice president.

Bishop Skylstad, 70, currently vice president of the conference, will succeed Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Illinois, as president. The two bishops have served in their respective posts since Nov. 13, 2001.

Bishop Skylstad was elected president on the first ballot at the prelates’ semiannual meeting here.

William Skylstad was born in Omak, in north-central Washington state. Earlier this year, he recalled: «Our family lived in a very non-Catholic area. In almost all of my years in grade school I had no Catholic classmates. In the seventh grade, I felt a strong call in my heart to become a priest. Don’t ask my why; no one ever mentioned that possibility to me. … Only in later years have I come to appreciate the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.»

Skylstad attended the pontifical college Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio. He was ordained to the priesthood May 21, 1960. After ordination he was assigned as a teacher at the Spokane Diocese’s high school seminary.

After his time as a seminary educator and administrator, he was named pastor of a growing parish north of the City of Spokane. After six years, he was called to pastor another parish for two years, and then was named chancellor of the Spokane Diocese.

On May 12, 1977, he was ordained a bishop for the Diocese of Yakima, located in Washington state, just west of the Spokane Diocese. He was appointed bishop of Spokane on March 31, 1990.

Last week, Bishop Skylstad announced his diocese’s plans to declare bankruptcy at month’s end, citing damages being sought in lawsuits over cases of clergy sex abuse.

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