A local priest is working out the details for installing a bishop appointed by the pope.

The Rev. Joshua Brommer is the chairman of the installation committee for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, which will hold a two-day service process for its 11th bishop, the Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer.

"This is my first time having such a hands-on and active role for an installation," said Brommer, administrator of St. John the Baptist Church in New Freedom. "It's a great joy and privilege to serve the bishop and the people of the diocese as we welcome our new shepherd."

Gainer, appointed the diocesan leader by Pope Francis, fills a leadership role left vacant by Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, who died May 2. The new bishop will oversee 250,000 Catholics throughout York and 14 other counties. Most recently, Gainer, 66, served as bishop of Lexington, Ky.


Vespers first: The diocese will first hold the Solemn Vespers service at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 6150 Allentown Blvd., Harrisburg. That service is open to the public and includes the songs, prayers and Bible reading.

The service includes a choir made up Catholic school students, including several from York Catholic High School. The choir will be led by Richard Skirpan, director of liturgical music at St. John the Baptist.

Skirpan, 33, of Shrewsbury, said this will be his first time participating in installation services for a bishop.

"It's a great experience, a humbling experience to be able to (present) a musical gift for the man who is going to be our shepherd, to welcome him right at the beginning," Skirpan said.

Mass of Installation: Skirpan, a bass, and his wife, Diane Skirpan, 32, a soprano, will be singing in the diocesan choir at the Mass of Installation for Gainer at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at St. Patrick Cathedral, 212 State St. in Harrisburg. Representatives from local churches are invited to attend.

"I'm very honored to participate, and to be singing with my husband makes it extra special," said Diane Skirpan, who also sings in St. John the Baptist's choir. "I'm looking forward to this. I think Bishop Gainer will be a wonderful bishop for our diocese."

The Skirpans said they are grateful that Brommer — also the diocesan liturgical coordinator — asked them to participate in the services.

Mass details: Brommer will serve as master of ceremonies as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia presides over the Mass, where Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano — Papal representative to the U.S. — will read Pope Francis's letter naming Gainer the bishop.

Altogether, more than 400 priests, at least 30 bishops and cardinals, and up to 500 lay members are expected to attend the event, along with government officials and representatives from other Christian denominations and faiths, said Brommer, who served as McFadden's administrative assistant.

"The Catholic church is experiencing a great flourishing mainly because of Pope Francis, and the encounter with Bishop Gainer will also be a representative of that," Brommer said. "I hope people go away from (the installation) enthusiastic about the faith and with the sense that the Catholic Church is vibrant and thriving in southcentral Pennsylvania."

—Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.