Canon Law Expert Named Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown

Auxiliary Appointed for Indianapolis

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HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pennsylvania, JAN. 14, 2011 ( Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Mark Bartchak, 56, of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, as bishop of Altoona-Johnstown. 

The Vatican today announced that Bishop-elect Bartchak will succeed Bishop Joseph Adamec, 75, who retired for reasons of age. 

Bishop-elect Bartchak, in a press conference today, noted, “I have been a priest of the Diocese of Erie for nearly 30 years and during that time I have been blessed by the fraternity of priests with whom I have served and by the coworkers in the various assignments that I have been given, especially in the Office of the Tribunal.” 

He added, “I look forward with anticipation and excitement to meeting and getting to know my new family in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.” 

“I know that above all, a bishop is to be a pastor,” Bishop-elect Bartchak affirmed. “To be a good pastor, a diocesan bishop especially needs the help of the priests who are so closely connected with God’s people in our parishes and schools.” 

He continued: “I want the priests of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown to know that I understand the blessings and the challenges of the ministry and life to which you have dedicated yourselves since the time of your ordination. I will do my best to help you and support you in that ministry and life we share.” 

At the press conference, Bishop Adamec noted that his successor is “very well versed in Canon (that is, Church) Law,” yet “he is very much a people-person and has a pastoral heart.” 

The prelate affirmed, “I know that he considers his priesthood to be one that serves God’s people in their journey into the Lord’s Kingdom.” 

Bishop-elect Bartchak has served on the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, as a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, and as a judge for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

He has been a confessor and spiritual director for Project Rachel, a chaplain for the St. Thomas More Society, and has actively worked in prison ministry as well as the care of refugees including Chaldean Catholics from Iraq who resettled in Erie. 

The Altoona-Johnstown Diocese has 107,000 Catholics served by 201 priests, 29 permanent deacons and 154 religious. 


Also today, the Vatican announced the appointment of Father Christopher Coyne, 52, of the Boston Archdiocese as auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He will serve under Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, 72. 

Upon hearing the news, Archbishop Buechlein expressed gratitude to the Holy Father, noting, “I consider this a late Christmas gift.” 

He continued: “As most of you know I’ve had some health issues in recent years, including a bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008 and that has curtailed some of my activities. Bishop-designate Coyne is a young 52. I’m 72. I’m looking forward to the energy he will bring to helping us carry out our mission.” 

Bishop-elect Coyne stated: “I pledge myself today to the service of God’s people here in (the archdiocese) and I hope over time to become a true son of Indiana. Please know that my prayers are for you and I ask only the same in return.” 

The Indianapolis Archdiocese has 242,000 Catholics, 257 priests, and 791 religious.

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