It was an announcement that started with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States, called Friday from Washington to say Msgr. Louis Kihneman III, a priest with the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, will be the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Biloxi. Kihneman will succeed the Most Rev. Roger Morin, who reached the mandatory age of retirement, 75, earlier this year.
Kihneman, who was formally presented to the diocese Friday morning, will be ordained during a ceremony Feb. 17, which also happens to be his birthday.
He said he is no stranger to the Gulf Coast.
“I used to spend the summers down here when I was a child and I would go to camp and go water skiing,” he said. “After all of these years, I’m glad to be back here.”
Kihneman said his first goal as the diocese’s new bishop will be to immerse himself in the community.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the people down here and getting to know them,” he said.
As head of the Diocese of Biloxi, Kihneman will oversee 42 parishes in 17 counties, including Stone, George, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. He also will be involved in the decision-making for several Catholic schools in the diocese, including Our Lady Academy in Bay St. Louis, St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi, Resurrection High School in Pascagoula and Sacred Heart High School in Hattiesburg.
Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral in downtown Biloxi is the seat of the diocese.
The Rev. Patrick Mockler of Most Holy Trinity in Pass Christian said he expects Kihenman to be a good fit for the diocese.
“He seems very nice and he’s very interested in parish life and he has a very diverse background — I think he’s a great pick for South Mississippi,” Mockler said.
Kihneman said he’s not in any hurry to make any major changes.
“There are a lot of great programs already in place that do great work to help the poor,” he said. “I want to get to know these people — when I was in Corpus Christi, I volunteered at a soup kitchen and I got to know the people by name and I want to do that here.”
He said he also plans to follow in the footsteps of the pope, who is an avid user of Twitter and has 10.1 million followers.
“I haven’t used it much before because I didn’t have much need for it, but now that I’m up there, I would very much like to,” Kihneman said. “I don’t think I will get the number of followers the Holy Father gets, though.”
Bishops of Biloxi
Three bishops have led the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi since it was established March 1, 1977, and the fourth was appointed by Pope Francis on Friday.
▪ Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze, installed June 6, 1977
▪ Bishop Thomas J. Rodi, installed July 2, 2001
▪ Bishop Roger P. Morin, installed April 27, 2009
▪ Msgr. Louis Kihneman, to be installed Feb. 17, 2017