Monsignor Barry C. Knestout Named Auxiliary Bishop by Pope Benedict XVI

November 18, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI today named Monsignor Barry C. Knestout, 46, a native of Bowie, Maryland, to be an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington. As bishop, he will assist Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl in the pastoral leadership of the 580,000-member archdiocese. His ordination will be held on Monday, December 29 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Washington, DC.

His younger brother, Mark, also is a priest and the director of the Office of Worship. He will be responsible for planning his brother’s ordination ceremony. Their father, Thomas, was a permanent deacon and director of the archdiocesan office for the permanent diaconate prior to his death in 1997.

In introducing the new bishop, Archbishop Wuerl said, “We rejoice that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has blessed the Archdiocese of Washington with a new auxiliary bishop. Bishop-elect Barry Knestout is a native son of this archdiocese. It has been my pleasure to work closely with him over these past few years and I appreciate his breadth of knowledge of the archdiocese, his deep concern for the pastoral ministry and his patient and kind manner. We all recognize his pastoral ability, his priestly spirit and his love for the Church. I look forward to continued collaboration with him as brother bishops, together with Bishop Gonzalez and Bishop Holley, to carry out our responsibilities for the pastoral oversight of the entire Archdiocese of Washington. As he assumes these new and significant duties we pledge him our support and prayers and invite all the faithful of this archdiocesan Church to ask God’s blessings on him.”

Washington has two other active auxiliary bishops, Bishop Francisco Gonzalez, S.F. and Bishop Martin D. Holley. Bishop Leonard Olivier, S.V.D. is retired.

A popular and well-known priest, Bishop-elect Knestout was born in 1962 in Cheverly, Maryland. One of nine children, he lived with his family in Ankara, Turkey for four years as a child, then grew up in Bowie, attending St. Pius X elementary school and Bowie Senior High School before receiving a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Maryland in 1984. He entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1985 to study for the priesthood and was ordained a priest in June 1989.

After ordination, Bishop-elect Knestout served as a parochial vicar at two parishes, St. Bartholomew in Bethesda (1989-1993) and St. Peter in Waldorf (1993-1994) before being named priest-secretary to Cardinal James Hickey, a role he held until the cardinal’s death in 2004. He held the same role with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2001 and 2003-2004. Named a Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1999, he also served as executive director of the Office of Youth Ministry/CYO from 2001-2003 and was named pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring in 2004. In October 2006, he returned to the central administration of the archdiocese to serve as Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns. Less than two years later, in April 2007, he was named moderator of the curia and vicar for administration. In this role, as “chief of staff” for the archdiocese’s offices, he assists Archbishop Wuerl in managing and overseeing all administrative affairs of the archdiocese.

He held a major role in the planning of Pope Benedict XVI’s historic April 2008 visit to Washington, DC, serving as co-chair of the Papal Visit Planning Committee. With his training in architecture he also oversaw a contest for architecture students from The Catholic University of America to design the papal altar and chair used by the Holy Father at the Mass at Nationals Park.

“This announcement brings me a mix of emotions: gratitude, joy, fear, confidence and hope,” Bishop-elect Knestout said. “I am grateful to our Holy Father for this appointment and to Archbishop Wuerl. In this year when the Holy Father blessed this local Church with his visit to Washington, I pray that my service as a bishop will be an occasion when all will be filled with a greater sense of joy and hope, knowing of the faith that we all share in Christ, our hope.”

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 580,000 Catholics, attending Mass in over 20 languages at 140 parishes and several missions; 98 Catholic schools; and extensive social service programs. The archdiocese includes Washington, DC and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
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