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Diocese welcomes new bishop

The affable, tech savvy and family-minded Bishop Robert J. Cunningham is the new and 10th bishop of the Syracuse Catholic Diocese. His installation mass was held May 26 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse. Nearly 1,000 people attended.

"My main challenge now is to come to know the priests and parishes; to get to know the diocese," he said, when asked about his position on churches slated to close in coming months. From there, he said he'd have a better idea on how to move forward.

The new bishop succeeds Bishop James Moynihan, who served 14 years in the Syracuse Diocese. He submitted his resignation two years ago on his 75th birthday.

Although Cunningham serves at a time of challenges that range from disputes over abortion and same sex marriage to a continuing decline in attendance at churches, there are tidings the church is heartened by. Archbishop Timothy Dolan points to the parishioners' fidelity to their parishes, the high percentage of Catholics among immigration, and a slight increase in priesthood.

"When people see Catholics who are happy, who are focused, who have a sense of purpose and meaning in life, who love their faith and who hand it on to their kids, that's when they attract," Dolan said. "That's when the magic happens."

As bishop of Syracuse, Cunningham will be the shepherd of more than 250,000 Catholics who reside in seven counties of the diocese, covering 5,479 square miles.

A series of evening prayer services with Bishop Cunningham will be held throughout the diocese in June. Below is a list of when and where they will be held:

7 p.m. Tuesday June 2

Holy Cross Church

4112 E. Genesee St.

DeWitt

7 p.m. Thursday June 4

St. Patrick Church

9 Leroy St.

Binghamton

7 p.m. Tuesday June 9

Our Lady of Lourdes Church

2 Barton Avenue

Utica

7 p.m. Thursday June 11

St. Peter's Church

105 E. Liberty S.

Rome

7 p.m. Tuesday June 23

St. Joseph Church

178 W. Second St.

Oswego

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