TOLEDO — Several area priests commented on Pope Francis’ selection of the Most Rev. Daniel E. Thomas, 55, as the eighth bishop of the Toledo diocese and leader of the region’s Catholics.
Thomas, 55, will be installed as bishop during a Mass at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral in Toledo.
Thomas immediately reached out to bridge with the public in a news conference held in Toledo on Tuesday. In his speech he mentioned looking forward to Tony Packo’s and the Toledo Mud Hens, both popular local favorites. He also offered humor concerning his name. Popular actor and comedian Danny Thomas, best known for his long run with the sitcom “Make Room For Daddy” in the 1950s and 1960s, was also from Toledo.
“Danny Thomas is coming back to Toledo, Thomas said. “It’s time for ‘Make Room For Daddy’ again.”
The Rev. David Ross of St. Rose of Lima and St. John the Evangelist Catholic churches in Lima was on his way to a meeting with Thomas in Toledo on Tuesday and gave a brief interview on the way. Ross was one of the eight on the board of consultors that made recommendations to the pope for Thomas’ selection.
“I think it was the perfect appointment,” Ross said. “He is known for his sense of humor. He is known to be very personable and is known for his caring of the poor and the sick. He is very competent for the position.”
The Rev. Jerry Schetter of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Ottoville and St. Barbara Catholic Church in Cloverdale, said everyone is excited to have someone in place.
“It is kind of like running a company without your board of directors,” Schetter said. “It is hard to get anything done and you can’t make any big decisions. We have a new leader for guidance.”
The Rev. Anthony Fortman of St. John the Baptist Church in Glandorf said the spirituality of the newly selected bishop was evident.
“He was appointed as a chaplain by Pope John Paul II at the age of 35,” Fortman said. “That is enlightening and positive for the church. It means he is a holy man, being selected at that age.”
The Rev. Thomas Extejt of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Columbus Grove said it seems to be a positive selection.
“I watched the press conference and he seems very friendly, opening and welcoming,” Extejt said. “Pope Francis wants to appoint people that are not bureaucrats.”
Extejt said he was also impressed with Thomas when he spoke in Spanish for a paragraph at the news conference to reach out to Spanish-speaking members of the church.
The position has been vacant since Pope Francis selected former Bishop Leonard P. Blair to become Archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut, in December. Since then, the Rev. Charles Ritter has served as diocesan administrator.
Thomas grew up in Philadelphia and attended seminary in Pennsylvania before being ordained in 1985. In 1990, he was assigned to serve the Holy See as an official of the Congregation for Bishops. He later served as adjunct spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College Seminary in Rome.
In 2005, he returned to the United States to pastor a church in Stafford, Pennsylvania, before becoming auxiliary bishop in 2006.
The Diocese of Toledo serves 319,907 Catholics in 124 parishes in 19 counties, stretching from Toledo to Allen County.