Bishop Ronald W. Gainer

Pope Francis has named a new bishop for the Diocese of Harrisburg, the Holy See announced Friday, Jan. 24.

Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, 66, currently head of the Diocese of Lexington, Ky., will be installed as the 11th bishop of Harrisburg March 19.

He succeeds Philadelphia native Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, who died suddenly May 2, 2013. Like Bishop McFadden, Bishop Gainer has ties to the Philadelphia Archdiocese and region.

Bishop Gainer was born Aug. 24, 1947, in Pottsville, Pa., in the Diocese of Allentown. He studied for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood and earned a master of divinity degree, summa cum laude. He was ordained a priest for the Allentown Diocese on May 19, 1973. He was consecrated and installed as Bishop of Lexington on Feb. 22, 2003.


Archbishop Charles Chaput said the appointment of Bishop Gainer is “a wonderful source of joy for the Church in Pennsylvania.”

He called the bishop “exactly the man to carry on the spirit and work of the late Bishop Joseph McFadden, while adding a whole new dimension and energy to the task.”

For much of his priesthood Bishop Gainer served in parishes, campus ministry, marriage and family ministry and tribunal positions. As secretary of Catholic Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Allentown he supervised 14 diocesan offices and the promotion of the works of spiritual renewal and evangelization.

Archbishop Chaput said the bishop “already has a keen sense of life in the commonwealth, the issues facing the church here, and the importance of the people and civic institutions of Harrisburg and central Pennsylvania. He’ll be a great voice for the poor, the unborn, quality education and the faith of the Catholic community. I welcome him enthusiastically as a brother, and I ask people of good will across the state to do the same.”

On the national level, Bishop Gainer is a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Administrative Committee and Committee on Priorities and Planning.

He has served as chair of Region V of the USCCB as well as having served on the Committee on Catholic Education, the Committee for Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, as well as a regional representative to the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, and liaison with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. He is also on the Sacred Heart School of Theology Board of Directors.

Father Robert M. Gillelan Jr., a Harrisburg priest who has served as diocesan administrator since Bishop McFadden’s death, announced the naming of Bishop Gainer Friday morning during a press conference in Harrisburg.

The Diocese of Harrisburg comprises 15 counties in Central Pennsylvania, including Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York. The diocese has 249,238 registered Catholics, 169 priests, 69 permanent deacons and 369 religious.