Because the Catholic church requires Bishops and Archbishops to retire at the age of 75, the Archdiocese of Hartford now has a replacement for Archbishop Henry Mansell,who turned 76 on October 10.
Bishop Leonard Blair, of Toledo, Ohio, was introduced today at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. And, when he is officially installed, on December 16th, the 64 year old Michigan native will lead the roughly 700,000 Catholics, in the three counties that make up the Archdiocese of Hartford.. And, those who know Bishop Blair suggest parishioners and church leaders will encounter a man cut from the same cloth as Pope Francis: a man of the people.
While in Rome, on October 17, Bishop Blair received word of his appointment, as Hartford’s 5th Archbishop, from the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
“The next day, at a papal audience, I was able to thank Pope Francis in person for the confidence he has placed in me,” noted Blair.
He said that his first order of business will be meeting the priests, who he describes as “a bishops closest and indispensible collaborators.”
Archbishop Mansell says he will encourage Blair to continue caring for the poor and staying focused on children’s religious education.
“Our schools are performing at wonderful rates. With the Iowa mastery test, our kids are comparing with children in peer schools and, in many case,s they’re two grades and three grades above people in the same grades,” said Mansell.
But, there were clouds on this otherwise sunny introduction. The diocese of Toledo, both prior to and during Blair’s tenure, dealt with alleged sexual misdeeds, including that of a catholic school counselor.
“I think the charter and norms that the American bishops have adopted and the steps we’ve taken have tried to address this in a very responsible, ongoing and in depth way,” responded Blair.
Upon retirement, in December, Archbishop Mansell will be living and serving at the St. Augustine’s Parish in South Glastonbury.