MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Martin D. Holley to the Catholic Diocese of Memphis.
“My phone was just blowing up- text and Facebook and everything. We have a new Bishop.”
It was hard for Devanie Cooper to contain her excitement.
She visited Pope Francis in Washington less that a year ago and now she’s learned he’s appointed a new Bishop in her hometown.
“Our Lord has given us a great blessing in Memphis through Bishop Holly.”
The current Bishop, James Terry Steib, is retiring after serving the Diocese for 23 years.
Under Bishop Steib’s leadership, several closed schools were reopened to serve lower income students.
Currently, there are nine Jubilee Schools which provide private school educations on an income based tuition plan.
On Tuesday, Bishop Holley was introduced to the Memphis community.
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The Florida transfer has 13 brothers and sisters, and said he knew he was called to be a faith leader at a young age.
His motto is “God’s mercy endures forever.”
Holley said he knows Memphis will have its own set of challenges especially in the area of education, racial tension and healthcare.
They’re all problems Bishop Steib said Holley’s experience will help with.
“I’m here, not because I’m African-American, but because I’m qualified. I think Bishop Holly is that way too. He’s qualified to do the task — to carry it to another level that moves beyond all of us.”
Holley said he plans to visit every church, talk to every priest and give parishioners a chance to know him.
“It gives me as a Bishop as an opportunity to know what is parish life like,” he said.
Holley said he also plans to continue to support the eight Jubilee Schools in Memphis.
“When you look at the Catholic church in particular around the world, it is always so generous in reaching out and helping those who are poor and less fortunate.”
The Catholic Diocese of Memphis covers 21 counties and is under the Archdiocese of Louisville.