Pope accepts resignation of St Augustine, Florida bishop, names successor


WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Felipe J. Estévez of St. Augustine, Fla., and named his successor Father Erik T. Pohlmeier, pastor of the Diocese of Little Rock, Ark., and director of the Diocese Office of Faith Education and Office of Deacon Education.

Havana-born Bishop Estévez is 76, a year past the age at which canon law requires bishops to resign. He was installed as the 10th Bishop of St. Augustine in 2011.

Bishop-designate Pohlmeier, who turns 51 on July 20, is from Colorado and grew up in Arkansas. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Little Rock in 1998. His brother, Keith Pohlmeier, is an advertising account manager for the catholic herald.

The changes were announced in Washington on May 24 by Bishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

The bishop-designate’s episcopal ordination and installation as the 11th bishop of St. Augustine will take place on July 22. Archbishop of Miami Thomas G. Wenski will preside over the Mass, with Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock and Bishop Estevez as co-consecrators. . The time and place of the mass have not been announced.

“I am grateful for all the ways I have been called to serve the church and I am humbled by this opportunity to serve where Mass was first celebrated in the United States,” the Bishop said. named Pohlmeier in a press release. “Praise God for any good work I am able to do.”

Bishop Taylor called the new bishop “one of the most able, most beloved and most admired priests in the Diocese of Little Rock, and he will be sorely missed.”

“He is fluent in Spanish and brings to the Diocese of St. Augustine a personal experience of the full spectrum of Catholic life acquired over 24 years of priestly ministry in every conceivable apostolate: urban, rural and suburban,” said said Bishop Taylor. in a report.

“He has served people of all ethnicities, income levels and cultures, both in parish life and in diocesan apostolates, most recently as director of religious formation,” he said.

“We are all one church,” Bishop Taylor added. The Catholic faithful in Arkansas are proud of Bishop-designate Pohlmeier and although “sending him to Florida will be a great sacrifice for us,” he said, “we rejoice in the good fortune of the Diocese of Saint Augustine and know that the Lord You have to love them very much to give them such a beautiful man to be their next bishop.

Bishop-designate Pohlmeier is currently the pastor of Little Rock’s largest parish, Christ the King Church, and also director of continuing education for clergy. He was theological consultant for the Arkansas Catholic diocesan newspaper for 19 years and director of continuing education for the clergy since 2019.

One of five children of Deacon Tom and Sharon Pohlmeier of Paris, Ark., the future priest and bishop studied mechanical engineering for two years at the University of Arkansas, from 1989 to 1991. He went to St Meinrad College in Indiana from 1992 to 1994 and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

He attended the Pontifical North American College, the American Seminary in Rome, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In 1998, he earned a Master of Arts in Spirituality from St. Thomas Aquinas University, also in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on July 25, 1998 by the late Bishop Andrew J. McDonald of Little Rock.

After his ordination, Father Pohlmeier’s first posting at the time was as associate pastor of Christ the King from 1998 to 2001. He was appointed parish priest there in 2020. In the years that followed, he served as parish priest in several other parishes, including Holy Spirit in Hamburg, Ark., which is a Spanish-speaking parish.

He currently serves on the Priests Council, Clergy Personnel Council, and Clergy Welfare Advisory Council.

Bishop Estévez, who is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Italian, was appointed head of the Diocese of Saint Augustine by Pope Benedict XVI on April 27, 2011, and was installed on April 2, 2011. June of the same year at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Jacksonville. , Florida.

Prior to that, he served as Auxiliary Bishop of Miami for approximately seven years, overseeing the archdiocese’s pastoral services ministry, including family life, youth, campus, prison, and privacy ministries. life, as well as all church movements and new communities. In 2010, he was appointed vicar general of the archdiocese.

From 2001 to 2003, Bishop Estévez served as spiritual director of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, where he served as rector from 1980 to 1986. He served as pastor of St. Agatha Church in Miami during 14 years old. , while also leading on-campus ministry at Florida International University.

The second of three children born to the late Adriano and Estrella Estévez, he arrived in the United States on an Operation Pedro Pan flight from Cuba as a teenager.

One of Florida’s seven Catholic dioceses, St. Augustine has a Catholic population of over 149,000 in 17 northeastern counties of the state.


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