Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham, 65, of the Diocese of Ogdensburg will become the 10th bishop of Syracuse, succeeding Bishop James M. Moynihan who has served the diocese since May 29, 1995. Cunningham will be installed on May 26 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception located in Downtown Syracuse.
Moynihan submitted his resignation to the Pope Benedict XVI upon his 75th birthday on July 6, 2007, as is required by Canon law. He will continue to serve as the bishop of Syracuse until Cunningham's installation.
Cunningham, son of the late Cecil and Grace Cunningham, was born and raised in Buffalo. He received his early education at St. John the Baptist Parish Elementary School and the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary, Buffalo. His college and seminary education continued at St. John Vianney Seminary, East Aurora, where he earned both bachelor of arts and master of divinity degrees. In 1978 he received a licentiate degree in canon law from the Catholic University of America.
Cunningham was ordained to the priesthood by Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin on May 24, 1969 at St. Joseph New Cathedral in Buffalo. His first assignment was associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Kenmore. In 1972 he became the assistant pastor at his home parish of St. John the Baptist, Kenmore.
He was named secretary to Bishop Edward D. Head and assistant chancellor of the Diocese of Buffalo in 1974. Upon the completion of his Licentiate Degree in Canon Law, Bishop Cunningham was named a judge in the marriage tribunal and vice-chancellor of the diocese. He was named a monsignor by John Paul II in 1984. In 1985 he was appointed chancellor for the diocese and the following year, vicar general. In January 2002, Bishop Henry J. Mansell named Bishop Cunningham pastor of St. Louis Church in downtown Buffalo. In December of 2003, the Diocesan College of Consultors in Buffalo elected him diocesan administrator, a position he held until his installation as the Bishop of Ogdensburg.