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Buffalo's next bishop plans busy agenda before arrival

The newly appointed 14th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo will spend his remaining time in Portland, Maine, cramming several months of meetings into a dramatically condensed calendar before his August installation here.

Bishop Richard J. Malone, 66, also expects to squeeze in some vacation time and a brief working trip to Buffalo to meet with diocesan staff here prior to departing Maine for good in early August, said Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Portland.

Malone was appointed May 29 to succeed Bishop Edward U. Kmiec. His installation is scheduled for Aug. 10 in St. Joseph's Cathedral.

Because the cathedral has limited seating, the event will be for only invited guests with tickets. Malone also is scheduled to preside at an evening prayer service Aug. 9 for diocesan and religious order priests.

In Portland, Malone had meetings scheduled well into December, and he's trying to move up some of those meetings -- despite an already full schedule -- before his Aug. 1 departure, Bernard said.

A diocesan installation planning committee met last week and likely will meet weekly until the event, said Buffalo diocesan spokesman Kevin A. Keenan.

Expected to be among those attending the installation are Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York and Archbishop Carlo M. Vigano, apostolic nuncio in the United States.

Malone, while no longer the ordinary bishop of Maine, remains the top leader of that diocese as "diocesan administrator."

In the days following Malone's installation, a group of priests known as the College of Consultors will elect another diocesan administrator who, according to Catholic canon law, leads the work of the diocese as a bishop would but is prohibited from making "innovations," such as opening or closing parishes.

Likewise, Kmiec isn't the ordinary bishop of Buffalo anymore, but he will continue as the diocese's apostolic administrator.

Under canon law, Kmiec's authority is now somewhat diminished from when he was ordinary bishop. He can no longer sell property or make appointments of pastors, for example.

It's not clear when Malone will move into the bishop's mansion on Oakland Place, where Kmiec has been living with two other priests since 2004. Kmiec's future living arrangements haven't been worked out yet, either, Keenan said.

It's possible Kmiec could move into a church rectory or an apartment. Bishop Edward D. Head was the last ordinary bishop who retired in Buffalo. Head lived in an apartment on Delaware Avenue in retirement, until his death in 2005.

Kmiec, 76, will spend part of his time in a home he owns on the New Jersey shore. When in Western New York, he plans to continue his priestly ministry, assisting in parishes by celebrating weekend Masses and possibly working as a chaplain in area hospitals.

"One of the things he'd like to do is hospital ministry. It's something that's very appealing and that he'd have time to do," Keenan said.

Malone's appointment marks a return to a tradition of Irish-American bishops leading the Diocese of Buffalo. All 12 bishops prior to Kmiec had Irish heritage. Kmiec is of Polish descent.

email: jtokasz@buffnews.com