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Catholic Church appoints new Bishop to lead Portland Diocese

Bishop-elect James Ruggieri answers questions at a press conference held on Tuesday. The Rhode Island priest will replace Bishop Robert Deeley (seated) as the Bishop for the Portland Diocese.
Nick Song
/
Maine Public
Bishop-elect James Ruggieri answers questions at a press conference held on Tuesday. The Rhode Island priest will replace Bishop Robert Deeley (seated) as the Bishop for the Portland Diocese.

Pope Francis appointed a new bishop to lead the Diocese of Portland on Tuesday. Bishop-elect James Ruggieri will succeed the retiring bishop Robert Deeley, who has led the Catholic Church in Maine for a decade.

Bishop Ruggieri comes from both Saint Michael the Archangel Parish and Saint Patrick Parish in Providence, RI. In his tenure, Ruggieri helped establish St. Patrick’s Academy, a co-ed Catholic secondary school.

"I recognize the importance of Catholic education [on] all levels, but especially at a secondary level," said Ruggieri at a press conference on Tuesday. "Because it’s still an age of formation for our young people."

The lifelong Rhode Islander will oversee almost 50 parishes, eleven schools, and two colleges in Maine. Ruggieri says his former parish in Providence had a sizeable membership from the Hispanic and African communities. He expressed his hope to use that experience to work with immigrant communities here in Maine.

"I love [the] Hispanic ministry — I’ve learned the language over the years and I love the food," said Ruggieri. "We do have an African community [at the parishes in Providence] — mostly immigrants from Burundi and Rwanda who emigrated especially during the genocide. So there is some experience there with the multiethnic and the multicultural ministry in the church."

Ruggieri will be ordained and officially installed in a ceremony at Portland’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in early May. He will replace the retiring bishop Robert Deeley, who will continue to reside in Maine as Bishop Emeritus.

Nick Song is Maine Public's inaugural Emerging Voices Fellowship Reporter.


Originally from Southern California, Nick got his start in radio when he served as the programming director for his high school's radio station. He graduated with a degree in Journalism and History from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University -- where he was Co-News Director for WNUR 89.3 FM, the campus station.