By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. Timothy C. Senior, 49, currently the Archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy, an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia.
Cardinal Justin Rigali announced the appointment at a press conference Monday, June 8, at the Archdiocesan Office Center.
Bishop-elect Senior will be ordained to the episcopacy at 2 p.m. Friday, July 31, at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.
Effective July 24, Bishop-elect Senior will become the Archdiocese’s vicar for administration, succeeding Bishop-designate of Saginaw, Mich., Joseph R. Cistone.
Bishop-elect Senior will also serve as a regional bishop of the Philadelphia-South vicariate and of Clusters 64 and 65 in the Delaware County vicariate currently assigned to Bishop Cistone.
It was at precisely 11:46 a.m. on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, that Bishop-elect Senior received word that the Pope had named him an auxiliary bishop, he said at the press conference. He was alone, in the process of planting flowers for his mother at his childhood home in North Wales, when Cardinal Rigali called him on his cell phone.
There, on the bench of a picnic table underneath a tree in the backyard he has known since childhood, Msgr. Senior spoke with the Cardinal about the appointment.
After their conversation, Bishop-elect Senior prayed quietly, then returned to his work with clay pots, potting soil, impatients and geraniums because he was not allowed to share the news until the appointment was officially announced.
Since June 2004 Bishop-elect Senior has served as vicar for clergy.
A native of North Wales, Montgomery County, Bishop-elect Senior is the third of three children of Elise [nee Rothwell] and the late James Harwood Senior.
Bishop-elect Senior welled up at the press conference as he acknowledged his love and respect for his mother, who was seated in the front row near his brother, sister and numerous other family members.
He graduated from St. Rose of Lima School in North Wales in 1973 and from Lansdale Catholic High School in 1977.
After completing studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, he was ordained a priest May 18, 1985, by Cardinal John Krol at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Pope John Paul II named him a monsignor in 1998 and a prelate of honor in 2005.
A seminary classmate at St. Charles was Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, who assists the Cardinal in overseeing the Office for Clergy. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said of his classmate’s appointment. “There is a brilliance about him in every way.”
He served as a parochial vicar of Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Feasterville, Bucks County, from 1985 to 1988 and taught religion at Archbishop Kennedy High School in Conshohocken from 1988 to 1989. He then pursued full-time graduate studies at Boston College, where in 1992 he earned a master’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in business administration.
From 1997 to 2004, Bishop-elect Senior served as the Secretary for Catholic Human Services (CHS). Catholic Health Care Services (CHCS) and Catholic Social Services (CSS), the largest private provider of social services in Pennsylvania, operate under CHS.
From 1992 to 1997, he served as deputy secretary of CHS and from 1996 to 1997 as executive director of CHCS.
Bishop-elect Senior said the charitable work of CHS constantly reminded him that Jesus Christ is encountered in the poor and suffering.
Msgr. Joseph P. Garvin, now the pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Philadelphia, was Bishop-elect Senior’s predecessor at CHS. “The Church in Philadelphia is very fortunate to have someone like him,” Msgr. Garvin said.
For the past 14 years, Bishop-elect Senior has served as chaplain and as a priest in residence for developmentally disabled women at spanine Providence Village in Springfield, Delaware County, a residential facility of CSS. He welled up again at the press conference as he acknowledged all he has served there. “The very special residents of spanine Providence Village daily reveal the face of Christ,” Bishop-elect Senior said.
All are delighted at spanine Providence Village, said Rosemary Bellenghi, administrator, and St. Joseph Sister Mary Veasy, the pastoral associate.
“He leads by example,” Bellenghi said. “We’re inspired by the Pope’s choice.”
Sister Veasy said one of the residents asked when the party would be.
Bishop-elect Senior has also served as a priest in residence at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Ambler, Montgomery County. Assignments in weekend ministry have included St. Kevin Parish in Springfield, St. Thomas the Apostle in Chester Heights and, for the last nine years, St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford, all in Delaware County.
Among his secondary assignments have been parochial vicar of St. Cyril of Jerusalem Parish in Jamison, Bucks County.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.