GARY — With the Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre – official delegate of the Pope – in attendance, Most Reverend Robert J. McClory was ordained a bishop and installed as the fifth Bishop of Gary on Tuesday.
During a special Mass at Holy Angels Cathedral, more than 800 faithful, including family and friends, community leaders, deacons, religious, priests and bishops from across the country gathered to witness the ordination and installation.
“The people have been warm and gracious,” said Bishop McClory. “There’s a sense of excitement that I have, that has certainly been present in the people of the Diocese of Gary. I’m looking forward to greeting many people over the coming days.”
The bishop viewed the day as a celebration for all of Northwest Indiana, and said he hopes the joy of the day will send a message of encouragement to the region.
“What I know of Bishop McClory’s pastoral and administrative skills and experience, clearly he will offer wisdom, insight and vision as he leads the Diocese of Gary as its fifth bishop,” said Bishop Donald Hying, the fourth bishop of Gary and current bishop of Madison, Wisconsin.
“I’m particularly pleased that he was instrumental in leading and implementing the pastoral synod of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He is uniquely poised to continue to build on Gary’s 2017 Synod.”
“He has a great pastoral heart. He cares very much about the spiritual well-being of the people he cares for,” said the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
“He has a missionary zeal. I think he is an outstanding pastor who brings a wide range of very significant talents to the priestly ministry.”
The last priest to be ordained a bishop in the Diocese of Gary was its founding shepherd, Bishop Andrew G. Grutka, who is entombed at the cathedral.
All bishops are appointed by the Pope, and ordained by at least three bishops who celebrate the sacrament. Although deacons and priests are also set aside in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, only bishops receive the “fullness of orders.”
The ordination of a bishop is a signature event in the life of a priest and the Catholic diocese to which he is appointed. It is considered an elevation of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The bishop is “configured” or “wedded” to Christ and receives graces needed to fulfill his vow to serve as a shepherd.
“Serving as a parish priest, in the Chancery and on many other levels in the Archdiocese of Detroit, I look forward to his many experiences and knowledge that will assist in the vibrancy of the Diocese of Gary parishes and schools,” said the Rev. Jon Plavcan, pastor of St. Patrick in Chesterton.
On Monday, prior to the Ordination Mass, more than 1,000 supporters gathered with then Bishop-elect McClory for Evening Prayer, or Vespers, at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Schererville.
Through this order of prayer, the community maintains continual praise of God with prayers of intercession for the needs of the world.
“It’s a beautiful tradition,” the Bishop-elect said. “The evening prayer service provided a wonderful opportunity for others to join in the ceremony and witness the blessing of the bishop’s insignia.”
Prior to his ordination, then-Monsignor McClory, 56, served as the pastor and rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Born in Detroit, he is the youngest of four children of James and Ann McClory (both deceased). In his previous assignments, McClory served as vicar general and moderator of the curia of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He also served as the pastor of Presentation Our Lady of Victory parish in Detroit.
Until his appointment to the Diocese of Gary, McClory served on the Archdiocese of Detroit Episcopal Council, College of Consultors, Priest Assignment Board and New Evangelization Council. He also serves as the spiritual advisor to Detroit Team Eight for Teams of Our Lady, a marriage enrichment apostolate.
As a consultant with the Catholic Leadership Institute, he offered leadership training to priests, deacons, seminarians, parish and diocesan leaders.
McClory studied philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He was then sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology in 1998 from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He completed his license in canon law at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome in 2000.
McClory was ordained a deacon by Cardinal Edmund Szoka in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, on Oct. 8, 1998. He was ordained a priest by Cardinal Maida at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit, on May 22, 1999. He was given the title of Monsignor and made a chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI on May 20, 2005.
Prior to entering the seminary, McClory earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from Oakland University, a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Columbia University and a juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
He is a member of the Canon Law Society of America and served as a member of the Committee on Civil and Canon Law.
“I am impressed with both Bishop McClory’s administrative experience and keen pastoral sense, which together will serve him and the diocese well,” said the Rev. Ian J. Williams, pastor of Sacred Heart, St. Joseph and St. Peter in La Porte and dean of the La Porte/Starke deanery.
The Diocese of Gary was established in 1956 by Pope Pius XII. The first bishop was Most Rev. Andrew G. Grutka (1956-1984). He was succeeded by the Most Revs. Norbert Gaughan (1984-1996), Dale Melczek (1996-2014), and Hying (2014-2019).
“I was filled with great joy when I heard the news of Bishop McClory’s appointment. He is very gifted and very close to the Lord,” Melczek said. “We are greatly blessed to have his leadership. He is exactly what the Diocese of Gary needs to lead us deeper in our relationship with the Lord.”
The diocese covers 1,807 miles, including Lake, Porter, La Porte and Starke counties, with the Catholic population estimated to be 168,500.
“Coming from Detroit, he has seen the changed economic conditions and the loss of hope that comes when industries are shuttered. Involved with those issues in Michigan, I am sure that he will be able to understand the plight of so many of the people in the Diocese of Gary,” said the Rev. Michael J. Yadron, pastor of St. Thomas More in Munster and interim diocesan administrator
“When he came to the Diocese of Gary for the press conference announcing his assignment, Bishop McClory’s first request was to visit a school before going back to Detroit. He took the time to converse with the students in such a way that they felt very important. He has a deep love for our students and a sincere commitment to Catholic education. This gives me hope.”