WASHINGTON – Pope Benedict XVI has named Monsignor Barry C. Knestout, vicar for administration for the Washington Archdiocese, as an auxiliary bishop of Washington.
Bishop-designate Knestout, 46, a lifelong resident of the archdiocese, has held the post as vicar and as moderator of the curia for the archdiocese since 2007.
He will become the 50th graduate of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary to become a bishop.
The appointment was announced Nov. 18 in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
He will be ordained a bishop Dec. 29 during ceremonies at St. Matthew Cathedral in Washington.
Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl praised the appointment during a press conference at the archdiocese’s pastoral center, calling the new bishop “a native son of this archdiocese. He was born, formed in the faith and educated here. He enjoys extensive personal experience of this church and a sense of continuity with its pastoral life.”
Bishop-designate Knestout, who served as one of two chairs of the planning committee for Pope Benedict XVI’s historic April 15-17 visit to Washington, said during the press conference he was grateful to the pope for his trust in him. He also said he was thankful for the example of the bishops and brother priests with whom he has served.
“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,” he said.
The sound of the crowd of 50,000 people cheering for Pope Benedict as he entered Washington’s Nationals Park for a papal Mass is something the bishop-designate said he never will forget. The crowd expressed its “joy in the shared faith we have, in Christ our hope,” he said.
At a Nov. 14 Mass at Our Lady, Queen of the Americas Church in Washington, then-Monsignor Knestout was one of 15 members of that planning committee to receive papal honors; he received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross for distinguished service to the church and the papacy.
Since the archdiocese’s formation in 1939, Bishop-designate Knestout is the third local priest to be named a bishop.
Born in the Washington suburb of Cheverly, Md., the new bishop grew up in nearby Bowie. He earned a bachelor of science degree in architecture from the University of Maryland in 1984.
Subsequently, he enrolled at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., where he earned a master of divinity degree in 1988 and a master of arts degree in 1989.
After his ordination as a priest in the archdiocese in 1989, Bishop-designate Knestout served in parish life for five years, first as associate pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish in Bethesda, Md., and then at St. Peter Parish in Waldorf, Md.
In 1994 he became priest-secretary to the late Cardinal James A. Hickey, a position he held for 10 years. During that time he also served as executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry. For the last year of his tenure as priest-secretary, he also worked for Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the now retired archbishop of Washington.
The new bishop-designate returned to parish service as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring, Md., in 2004. Two years later he became secretary for pastoral life and social concerns for the Washington Archdiocese until his most recent appointment in 2007 by Archbishop Wuerl.
In addition to the city of Washington, the archdiocese includes parishes in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland. It has 140 parishes and 98 schools.