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Pope Benedict XVI names Bishop Sartain to diocese in Joliet, Ill.

After six years as the sixth bishop of Little Rock, Bishop J. Peter Sartain announced May 16 that he has been called to succeed retiring Bishop Joseph L. Imesch of Joliet in Illinois. He will be installed as Joliet's fourth bishop June 27 at Cathedral of St. Raymond.

Published: May 20, 2006   
Kathrynne Skonicki, Catholic Explorer
Newly appointed Bishop J. Peter Sartain meets the press with retiring Bishop Joseph L. Imesch (at lectern) May 16 at the St. Charles Borromeo Pastoral Center in Romeoville, Ill. Bishop Sartain was named to head the seven-county Diocese of Joliet, which serves more than 650,000 Catholics. He will be installed June 27 at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet.

The Vatican announced Tuesday, May 16 that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop J. Peter Sartain bishop of the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. For the past six years, Bishop Sartain has served as bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, which encompasses the entire state or Arkansas.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Bishop Sartain was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Memphis on July 15, 1978. He served in various pastoral and administrative capacities within the Memphis diocese until his appointment as bishop of Little Rock in January of 2000. He was ordained and installed as Little Rock's sixth bishop on March 6, 2000, succeeding Bishop Andrew J. McDonald.

In his new appointment, Bishop Sartain succeeds Bishop Joseph L. Imesch, who has served as bishop of Joliet for 27 years. He will be installed as Joliet's fourth bishop on June 27 in the Cathedral church of St. Raymond, with His Eminence Francis Cardinal George of Chicago presiding over the installation liturgy. One of six Catholic dioceses in Illinois, Joliet has a Catholic population of more than 630,000 in seven counties. This compares to the approximately 107,000 Catholics in Arkansas.

Facts about Bishop Sartain
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Reflecting on his appointment to the Diocese of Joliet, Bishop Sartain said, "I did not anticipate this appointment, but I have accepted it with trust in God's ways and God's wisdom, and I know that just as he has blessed me during my time in Arkansas, so will he bless me now in Illinois. I ask for your kind prayers, that I will be a generous and wise servant of the Church of Joliet. It has been a privilege and a joy to serve the Diocese of Little Rock, and I will always miss the clergy and parishioners here."

Bishop Sartain attended a press conference Tuesday in Joliet where the announcement was made public.

The process for selecting a new bishop for the Diocese of Little Rock will be undertaken by the Vatican. While there is no definitive time frame for that process, the diocese will be listed as "sede vacante," or a "vacant see," during which time a diocesan administrator will be elected from among the priests of Arkansas to oversee the affairs of the diocese.

See" target="null">Bishop Sartain's May 20 column for his reflection on the news.

Facts: Bishop J. Peter Sartain

  • Age: 53

  • Born: June 6, 1952, Memphis, Tenn.

  • Education: Bishop Sartain holds a licentiate in theology with a specialization in sacramental theology from the Pontifical Institute of St. Anselm in Rome.

  • Ordination to priesthood: July 15, 1978, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Memphis

  • Transition before installation in Joliet: From May 16 to June 27, he is officially called the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Little Rock.

  • Historical facts: Bishop Sartain was the sixth bishop of Little Rock. Bishop Sartain was the second bishop of Little Rock to hail from Tennessee. He was the first priest from the Diocese of Memphis to be appointed a bishop.

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