Bishop Daniel E. Thomas visits the Central Catholic High School chapel. He also met with some students and visited Sister Berneta Schneider’s theology class.
Bishop Daniel E. Thomas serves at Helping Hands of St. Louis Outreach Center in East Toledo with Jean Scott of Tontogany, Ohio, center, and Helen Bare, of Perrysburg, both of Saint John XXIII Catholic Parish in Perrysburg.
The Diocese of Toledo has a new bishop.
Chosen for the job is Daniel E. Thomas who has spent most of his life in the Philadelphia area and Rome.
In a news conference Tuesday at the diocese’s Catholic Center announcing that Pope Francis named him the eighth bishop of Toledo, Bishop Thomas spoke of ties to his new home, starting with his name.
“Pope Francis has sent Toledo a new Danny Thomas,” Bishop Thomas, 55, said. Danny Thomas, the entertainer who died in 1991, grew up in Toledo.
The new bishop received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., and also later studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He served at the Vatican and as the adjunct spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College Seminary in Rome before returning to the United States to serve in Philadelphia in 2006.
He described the provenance of a special work of art, a bronze bas relief, given to him by Archbishop John Foley, which had been passed down from other archbishops beginning with Joseph Schrembs, who was the first bishop of Toledo, to Edward Hoban, to John Krol (who was ordained by Archbishop Schrembs and who ordained Bishop Thomas), to Archbishop Foley.
And he said, “I look forward to that day when someone, please God, might say, ‘Wow, that’s a miracle, a Philadelphian became a Toledoan.’ ”
According to the Rev. Charles Ritter, who served as the diocesan administrator during the period between bishops, Bishop Thomas is serious about that comment.
■The Most Reverend Daniel E. Thomas
■Born June 11, 1959, in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia
■Bachelor of arts and master of arts, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., 1981, 1985
■Ordained a priest May 18, 1985
■Parochial Vicar, St. Joseph Parish, Aston, Pa., 1985-87
■Licentiate in sacred theology in dogmatic theology, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1989
■Official of Congregation for Bishops at the Holy See, the Vatican, 1990-2005
■Adjunct spiritual director, Pontifical North American College Seminary, Rome, 1990-2005
■Named Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Titular Bishop of Bardstown, June 8, 2006
■To be installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, Oct. 22
During a Monday tour of the cathedral, he asked Father Ritter about where former bishops of Toledo are buried, and “he says, ‘Well, I really need to get a cemetery plot because I really don’t plan on going any place else.’ ”
Bishop Thomas, who has been auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia since 2006, succeeds Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, who in December, 2013, was installed as archbishop of Hartford, Conn.
The new bishop will be formally installed during a Mass at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, on Oct. 22, which will also be the first feast day of St. John Paul II, the bishop noted.
At the news conference, Bishop Thomas talked about the Pope’s wish for bishops.
“Pope Francis is asking every bishop to be who he himself is modeling, and that is to model Jesus Christ. And so there’s that very famous phrase of Pope Francis that we’ve heard a zillion times, ‘The priest should have the smell of the sheep,’ right? So I’m hoping this bishop will be very smelly.
“And I know that Pope Francis obviously has set us an example of simplicity. He has set us an example of reaching out to people. ... So his pastoral outreach is constant, and I would simply hope that I would bring that same love for the flock, which is inspired first by the love of Jesus for his flock.”
The bishop demonstrated that he shares the Pope’s concerns for the people by making his first public appearance after the news conference at Helping Hands of St. Louis Outreach Center in East Toledo, which is an outreach center of Catholic Charities that provides clothes, meals, and a food bank. Bishop Thomas took a position on the serving line at lunchtime after a brief tour of the facility.
Bishop Thomas, 55, greets Central Catholic High School senior A’yanna Bishop outside the school on Cherry Street. She was shooting yearbook pictures.
‘Where my heart is’
Bishop Daniel E. Thomas visits students at Central Catholic High School near downtown Toledo after the announcement of his new position in Toledo.
Rodney Schuster, executive director of Catholic Charities in the diocese, said, “When he met with our staff, he said, ‘That’s where I want to be, that’s where my heart is, following Pope Francis,’ so it’s pretty exciting.”
The Rev. Monte Hoyles, the diocese chancellor, said, “A bishop is never appointed solely for the Catholics; he’s always appointed for the people, and so in some ways the other people of the diocese, and you see that most in the poor. They are entrusted to his care, too, and ... I get the real sense that he has a focus on that, which is really nice. He realizes that there’s a wider group that belongs to the church, that belongs to God, so I like that approach very much.”
Volunteer Martha Moore of Toledo said he was “very personable. He mentioned about the volunteer work and how gratifying it is, personally it is, and I feel that way.”
Volunteer Kathy Thompson said, “He seems like hands-on” in his service to people.
Both women also described the bishop as “handsome” and “very nice looking.”
After the brief time with people in need, Bishop Thomas went to Central Catholic High School, where he met with some students, visited Sister Berneta Schneider’s theology class, and toured the school.
A’yanna Bishop, a senior from Toledo who was shooting pictures for the yearbook, said she had been nervous about meeting the bishop, but she enjoyed it.”
Freshman Zoe Farrugia of Bowling Green said she hoped to learn from Bishop Thomas because she considered him to be close to God.
Taylor Contreras, a junior from Point Place, said, “It was very exciting. It was actually very nice to meet him, it’s wonderful. He’s a very nice guy.”
Bishop Thomas also visited nuns at the Sisters of the Visitation Monastery and priests and other infirmary patients at the Ursuline Center.
Sexual abuse crisis
In an interview with The Blade, Bishop Thomas spoke about the ongoing crisis in the church regarding sexual abuse and other crimes of priests.
“First and foremost,” he said, “I stand with Pope Francis, who has recently said there is absolutely no place in the church for an abuser, whether that be a cleric, the clergy, or anyone else, so there is no place in the church for abusers.
“At the same time I, together with everyone else, repeat a mea culpa in asking a deep forgiveness of any of the survivors who were wounded and hurt by what is a horrible, horrible crime, a grave moral sin, and a scourge to our church. And the reality, as we know, is that it’s so beyond the church, it’s also society.
CTY 1stbishopvisit27p Jean Scott, of Tontogany, left, with Bishop Daniel Thomas at the soup kitchen of Helping Hands of St. Louis. The Bishop and she had served lunch guests together. Bishop Daniel Thomas visits Helping Hands of St. Louis Outreach Center in east Toledo, Ohio on August 26, 2014. Pope Francis named the Most Reverend Daniel E. Thomas as the eighth Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo in America. He has been serving as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Helping Hands of St. Louis Outreach Center, located at 443 Sixth St., Toledo, Ohio, serves low income and homeless families and individuals. The outreach center includes a soup kitchen, food pantry and clothing center. Additional services include hygiene products, homeless kits and hot showers. The Blade/Jetta Fraser
“So I pledge to do what we’ve tried to do in Philadelphia, and I think there have been an enormous number of achievements regarding the addressing of the issue, and that’s everything from, if you will, the plan which we had which was called Honesty, Healing, and Hope in Christ, and was named that ... because it was not just for those who had been affected, it was not just for their families, it was not just for the good priests who are the majority of priests out there, but it was for the whole diocese and especially parishes which were hurt and affected by it.
Bishop Thomas gives his first public address at the Catholic Center in Toledo where his position was announced to the public. He comes from Philadelphia.
“So I pledge to do everything that I can to make sure that children are protected and that we do everything to assist survivors, and we move forward together in mercy, please God.”
Barbara Blaine, a former Toledoan who founded the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests often referred to as SNAP, said, “I think that the track record of the bishop in Philadelphia has been horrible.”
She cited a 2011 grand jury that found “not one or two dozen, but 37 accused predatory priests working in ministry in Philadelphia,” after a 2005 report of a grand jury “indicated that children were at risk and bishops were protecting the reputation of church officials and predators rather than protecting the innocence of children.
“Clearly they did not learn between 2005 and 2011,” she continued.
However, she said, she hopes Bishop Thomas “will do everything in his power to be concerned for the innocence of the children.”