Rector at D.C. Basilica Is Appointed Bishop

WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 9, 2004 ( John Paul II named Monsignor Michael Bransfield, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, to succeed Bishop Bernard Schmitt who retired.

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The Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Schmitt, 76, who held the post in West Virginia since 1989. Bishop-elect Bransfield, 61, is to be installed in February.

Michael Bransfield was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned a master of divinity degree at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and a master’s in philosophy at Catholic University of America.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in May 1971.

He served as assistant director and master of ceremonies at the basilica of the national shrine in Washington, D.C., from 1980 to 1982, and as director of finance from 1982 to 1986. He was appointed rector of the basilica in 1986.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston comprises the state of West Virginia. It has a Catholic population of about 100,000 in a total population of 1.8 million.

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