Bishop Donald J. Hying appointed fourth bishop of Diocese of Gary
By Debbie Bosak
Northwest Indiana Catholic
MERRILLVILLE - Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Donald J. Hying as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Gary, succeeding Bishop Dale J. Melczek.
Born on August 18, 1963, Bishop Hying, the youngest of six siblings – all boys – was born to the late Albert and Catherine Hying. A native of West Allis, Wisc., Bishop Hying received his undergraduate degrees in philosophy, theology and history from Marquette University. He attended Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, also in Wisconsin, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1989.
After serving as associate pastor of St Anthony Parish in Menomenee Falls, then-Father Hying made a three-year commitment to serve as a team member at La Sagrada Familia Parroquia, a parish of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in the Dominican Republic, ministering to over 50,000 people in 28 villages.
In an interview with the Catholic Herald in Milwaukee, Franciscan Sister Fran Cunningham, director of the World Mission Ministries of the archdiocese, is quoted as saying: “People did not fear to approach him; they were happy to welcome him into their homes…because of his sincere interest in them, and just his willingness to minister among them.”
Throughout his various ministries, Bishop Hying has long demonstrated a deep love for the people of God. Serving as the spiritual advisor for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the archdiocese, he was once quoted as saying, “I have a love for the poor and for people on the margins. The Church needs to be part of the solution for them.” Bishop Hying’s mission experience and ability to speak fluent Spanish are expected to serve him well in his new diocese.
Upon his return to the U.S., Father Hying was appointed temporary administrator of St. Peter Parish in East Troy and then as pastor at St. Anthony in Milwaukee. In 2005, he was appointed dean of formation at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, as well as temporary administrator of St. Augustine Parish.
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, now Cardinal Dolan of New York, appointed Father Hying rector of the seminary in 2007.
The Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Father Hying as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2011.
Bishop Hying credits St. Pope John Paul II, as well as his parents for his vocation to the priesthood. Recalling a moment when the late-pope was elected, he said, “From that moment (when) he came out on the balcony, I felt everything he was saying, he was saying directly to me.”
In regard to his parents, they instilled great faith in their children. Growing up in a devoutly Catholic family meant daily Mass, as well as a family Rosary. “That’s how we were raised,” Bishop Hying said in an interview shortly before his episcopal ordination. “My parents were very devoted to God, devoted to the Church, were people of deep prayer. Both were equally strong in the faith.”
Speaking at a press conference at announce the new bishop at the Pastoral Center in Merrillville on Nov. 24, Bishop Melczek thanked those gathered – priests and administrative staff – for their continued prayers and cooperation throughout the 22 years of his ministry in the diocese.
“God is good, all the time,” Bishop Melczek said. “We are blessed and grateful to God for giving us our fourth bishop. He is well prepared.
“You will come to know him as a very holy man,” he continued.
Bishop Hying then addressed the crowd for the first time.
“It is a great joy and honor to be with you today. I feel humble and unqualified but God often calls the humble to such positions.”
Bishop Hying thanked Pope Francis for the appointment and, looking directly at Bishop Melczek, commented: “I feel like I am succeeding a saint.”
Noting his roots in Milwaukee, another blue-collar city, Bishop Hying said he comes to the Gary diocese with “joy and enthusiasm,” saying the gifts he hopes to bring are deep “faith in the Lord Jesus and great love for the Church.”
As in many communities in Northwest Indiana, Milwaukee also struggles with crime and violence.
“That is where the Church needs to be,” Bishop Hying said. “We work for justice and show mercy.”
Bishop Hying said he fully expects to spend the first few months in the diocese getting to know the lay of the land; visiting all the parishes and schools and familiarizing himself with the people and communities of Northwest Indiana.
When asked to comment on the new immigration program recently announced by President Obama, Bishop Hying said that while he was unprepared to address matters of law at the present, being Church meant “balancing the laws with the need to love and serve. The Church always looks to people first…how do we respond and love them.”
Ending the press conference on a lighter note, Bishop Hying was asked if he was a Bears or Packers fan. With great diplomacy, he laughed and replied, “I’m a Packers fan but open to conversion.”
A Mass of Installation will be celebrated at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary on Jan. 6. Bishop Melczek now assumes the title of Bishop Emeritus and will serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese in the interim.