YOUNGSTOWN The Rev. David J. Bonnar, pledging his life Tuesday to serve as the sixth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, chose as the motto for his new coat of arms “That All May Be One.”
Less than 100 people attended the invitation-only ordination Mass at St. Columba Cathedral.
Bonner, a native of Pittsburgh, is now the spiritual shepherd of 160,000 Catholics in 84 parishes covering Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark, and Trumbull counties.
The 58-year-old succeeds the late Bishop George V. Murry, who died on June 5.
Ordained in 1988, Bonnar is a graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He also earned a degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. After ordination, he served as a parochial vicar in three parishes, and as a chaplain at a Catholic high school. His first parish was in New Castle, Pa.
Prior to his ordination, he served as a deacon at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and as a team chaplain for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 12 years.
Bonnar also served the church in a variety of administrative roles, including director of vocations, director of a preordination program and episcopal vicar for clergy.
Bonnar was serving as a parish priest in Wexford, Pa. when he was elevated to bishop.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, read the official appointment letter from Pope Francis.
Fifteen bishops from Ohio and around the country participated in the service, including Bishop John Michael Botean, head of the Romanian Eparchy at St. George’s Cathedral in Canton.
The homily was delivered by Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, under whom Bonnar served.
“Every bishop is called to be a father,” Zubik said.
“The first apostles were the first bishops. Jesus referred to God as father 48 times. He did so because he wanted the first bishops to have the same relationship, and to rely on God as he had … and so, dear David, the charge is given to you as it was to them.”
After vowing his faithfulness, the new bishop lie prostrate on the floor in prayer. He was anointed with oil, blessed by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, who ordained him, and was presented with a Book of Gospels.
Afterward, Bonnar was greeted by each of his new brother bishops.
He also was presented with a bishop’s ring, a new miter, and a bishop’s staff by three of his siblings and two nephews and a niece.
As bishop, Bonnar has a new coat of arms. One side representing the diocese and the Youngstown community, and the other side featuring items representing his personal faith journey and his motto, “That All May Be One.”
Following the presentations, Bonner celebrated his first Communion as a bishop. Unlike in earlier days, parishioners offered each other the sign of peace from a distance.
After the Mass, Bonnar thanked and extolled his brother bishops for their support, as well as the diocesan leadership, including Vicar General Robert Siffrin, whom he reappointed. That prompted laughter.
“We have just celebrated an ancient ritual, pregnant with grace and rich meaning,” he said. “The same spirit that led the apostles out of the upper room, leads us now and continues to work in our lives. This moment is not about me, but the Holy Spirit. I am thrilled to be here and to be your bishop. Join me in allowing the spirit to take over and let us pray that all may be one.”
After the Mass, Bonnar stood outside to greet well-wishers and to take pictures.
He jokingly mentioned that some members of his favorite football team have a presence at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and added that he is looking forward to visiting the people of Canton.