During a July 4 family get-together, Bishop W. Francis Malooly gathered his family around him. There was big news to share, and he wanted to tell them before it reached the ears of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The affable western vicar had received word he would be formally installed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., on Sept. 8.
Upon hearing the news, Bishop Malooly’s brother, Gerard Malooly, thought about how fortunate the people of Delaware were to be getting such a strong spiritual leader.
“The people will love him there,” the youngest of the three Malooly brothers, said. “He’s very low key and very giving to everybody. It’s a great honor for my brother and well deserved, too.”
The oldest of four siblings, Bishop Malooly has always been a leader for Austin, Gerard and Martha. It is a trait they will miss as he moves to Delaware.
“My whole family is extremely proud of him,” said Bishop Malooly’s sister, Martha Hackman, “because of his strong faith and his excellent administrative skills. Fran will make a wonderful bishop of Wilmington. Wilmington will love him.”
Friends around Baltimore said Bishop Malooly provided outstanding leadership for the western vicariate, which extends from Howard County to Garrett County.
Harold A. Smith, executive director of Catholic Charities, has worked with Bishop Malooly for more than 25 years.
“As the archbishop noted in his memo, it’s sad for us but we’re pleased for him,” he said. “He’s a wonderful friend and a great leader in our archdiocese.”
Mr. Smith thinks the bishop’s number one strength is “his personality. He has a warmth and genuineness which just radiates from the man. That in turn allows him to build strong relationships and also gets problems solved well.”
He envisions Bishop Malooly will tackle his new responsibilities in Wilmington “with the same fervor, gusto and spirit that he brought to Baltimore.”
Bishop Malooly, friends said, is a man of his word.
Chris Weber, director of Catholic Education Ministries of Central Ministries, said Bishop Malooly made an appearance at every one of the office’s annual formation days during the last 10 years.
“One thing I’ve always appreciated about him is his gift of presence,” Mr. Weber said. “He is always willing to come out and be in any situation at any time. He has a gift for remembering faces and names and for making people feel important. He has consistently supported our office, and for that I’m especially grateful.”
Suzanne Molino Singleton and Matt Palmer contributed to this story.