Bishop Hying returns to Wisconsin to lead Madison diocese

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Diocese of Madison will soon have a new leader.

Bishop Donald J. Hying

The fifth Bishop of Madison was announced Thursday as Bishop Donald Hying named by Pope Francis to succeed Bishop Robert Morlino who died in November.

The 58-year-old Hying comes from the Diocese of Gary, Indiana where he has served as bishop since January 2015.

Hying is no stranger to Wisconsin. He was born in West Allis and says he has many relatives who live within in the Diocese of Madison.

"I have great memories of Southwest Wisconsin," said Hying in a press conference. "Wisconsin feels like home."

Hying was ordained a priest in Milwaukee in 1989. Hying was appointed by Pope Benedict to be the auxiliary bishop of the Milwaukee Archdiocese and was consecrated as bishop in 2011.

He also is a graduate of Marquette University and received his Master's degree at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee.

Hying was the Bishop of Gary for the past four and a half years. In August 2018, he penned a letter addressing the recent reports of clergy sexual abuse.

"We need to continue to reach out and try and bring healing and reconciliation to those who have suffered as victims," said Hying. "We want to protect those who are falsely accused but also be very on target in terms of addressing issues of actual crimes and sins."

He recognizes this issue is part of a wider, societal problem.

"The Church has a very particular responsibility to creating a safe environment an also trying to heal the misdeeds of the past," Hying said.

Bishop Hying says he's looking forward to making connections with political leaders.

"It should be simply a relationship established in a moment of crisis or difficulty, but a relationship established and really built on trust, respect, and even friendship," said Hying.

In addition to meeting with local community members, Hying says he plans to meet individually with pastors and deacons and visit as many of the 102 parishes in the diocese as he can.

"I expect to put a lot of miles on my car within my first year just to get know people," he said.

Hying admits he does not know how different his leadership will be from the late Bishop Robert Morlino.

"Each one of us is our own person and I think that remains to be seen," said Hying. "Bishop Morlino was always very kind to me, profoundly Catholic, and very steeped in the tradition and teaching of the Church and I would hope to build on that."

Hying is looking forward to building a new future in the Diocese of Madison and welcomes interacting with those both of Christian and of non-Christian beliefs.

"We can build a community of love and respect and goodness, where everyone person is loved and welcomed and received," Hying said.