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January 15, 2010

Shamokin native to lead diocese until bishop named

HARRISBURG — A graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School has been named to lead the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg until a replacement is selected for departing Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

The Rev. Chester P. Snyder, 58, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Mechanicsburg, has been elected to the position of diocesan administrator by the College of Consultors of the Diocese of Harrisburg.

“I appreciate the confidence of the College of Consultors and with their help I will do all in my power and with the good graces of the Lord to keep the diocese as vibrant and God-centered as we need to be in these days,” said Snyder, Shamokin native.

Pope Benedict XVI in mid-November appointed Rhoades as the ninth bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind.

A diocesan administrator is to carry on the established policies and procedures of the diocese.

“My job is to help the diocese transition into the era of a new bishop and to maintain the status quo and stability of the diocese,” Snyder said.

An administrator must hold to the ancient principle of avoiding all innovations. The administrator is bound by all the obligations of a diocesan bishop; in particular he must have residence in the diocese and he must celebrate Mass for the people every Sunday and on holy days of obligation. Snyder will hold the office until a new bishop begins work.

The appointment of a new bishop can often taking eight months or more to complete. The ultimate decision in appointing bishops rests with the pope, who is free to select anyone he chooses.

Snyder was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Harrisburg in 1977 by Bishop Joseph T. Daley in his home parish of St. Joseph in Shamokin. He holds a bachelor of science degree in psychology and philosophy from the University of Scranton, a bachelor of sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, Italy, and a masters of art history from Bloomsburg, University.

The College of Consultors is a diocesan body of 12 priests, selected from the council of priests by the bishop. Members are appointed to five-year, rotating, renewable terms. Canon law requires the bishop to consult with his College of Consultors before making certain decisions on governance and administration of the diocese.

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