MEADVILLE — Click photo for slideshow
The Crawford County Catholic community responded by the hundreds Tuesday evening in welcoming their new spiritual leader, Erie Catholic Diocese Bishop Lawrence Thomas Persico.
The faithful of all ages, including students from Meadville’s Seton Catholic School who presented a personalized afghan throw and announced a food drive started in his honor. They welcomed their new bishop at St. Agatha Catholic Church, where a 7 p.m. Mass was celebrated, followed by a public meet-and-greet reception. Bishop Persico also was presented with a special ceremonial robe by Fr. Matthew Kujawinski, pastor of St. Agatha’s.
On Oct. 1, Persico was ordained the 10th bishop in the 159-year history of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie. He has been traveling the 13-county diocese since then to meet the members of his flock.
At his ordination, 200 priests and 60 deacons from both the Diocese of Erie and Bishop Persico’s native Diocese of Greensburg, as well as various vicars, provincials and other administrators and 28 bishops and archbishops gathered for the special ceremonies, according to published reports from the diocese.
Born in Monessen, Bishop Persico attended Saint Cajetan Elementary School there, and St. Joseph Hall, the diocesan high school seminary in Greensburg, graduating in 1969. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1973 from Saint Pius X in Erlanger in the Diocese of Covington, Ky., and graduated from Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe in 1975 with a master of divinity degree.
Bishop-elect Persico was ordained a deacon on June 8, 1976, and ordained a priest for the Diocese of Greensburg on April 30, 1977. Following various administrative appointments, he was named a monsignor in 2005, and continued to advance in various positions in the Greensburg Diocese.
On July 31, Bishop Persico’s appointment as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Erie by Pope Benedict XVI was announced by the Vatican, selecting him to succeed the Most Rev. Donald Trautman.
Founded on July 29, 1853, the Erie diocese, geographically the largest in Pennsylvania, covers 9,936 square miles in northwestern Pennsylvania and is home to about 220,000 Catholics (74,000 families).