December 12, 2013

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Mount Pocono priest elevated to bishop of Mississippi diocese

SCRANTON - Pope Francis appointed the Reverend Joseph R. Kopacz, Ph.D., pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish, Mount Pocono, as the eleventh bishop of the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi. Bishop-elect Kopacz succeeds Bishop Joseph Nunzio Latino, whose resignation was accepted, having completed his seventy-fifth year of age. Bishop-Elect Kopacz’s episcopal ordination and installation as Bishop of Jackson are scheduled for February 6, 2014 in the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter the Apostle, Jackson, Mississippi.

The son of the late Stanley and Carmella Calormino Kopacz, Bishop Elect-Kopacz is a native of Dunmore, PA and is a graduate of Dunmore Central Catholic High School. He is the second of three children with a brother, Robert, and a sister, Mary Ellen Negri. He attended St. Pius X. Seminary, Dalton and received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Scranton and his Master’s Degree in Theology from Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, New York. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychology and a Doctorate in Human Development from Marywood University.

Bishop-Elect Kopacz was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Scranton by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, PA on May 7, 1977.  Among his various assignments was to serve as pastor of St. Mary of the Mount, Mount Pocono while continuing to serve as Vicar General, a position he held until August of 2009. At that time he was appointed to serve as pastor of St. Ann, Tobyhanna and in July, 2010 he also assumed the pastoral duties of St. Bernadette, Canadensis. Following a process of parish pastoral planning, the three churches Bishop-Elect Kopacz pastored, including St. Mary of the Mount, St. Ann and St. Bernadette, consolidated to form Most Holy Trinity Parish. As Bishop-Elect Kopacz departs for Jackson, the parish is and will continue to explore its potential to build a new Church.

During his years of pastoral ministry, Bishop-Elect Kopacz also served in a variety of Diocesan positions, including President of the Catholic Schools’ Board of Education, Board of Trustees at St. Michael’s, an advocate in the Tribunal, member of the Diocesan Finance Council, Director of Continuing Education for Priests, faculty member and Formation Director at St. Pius X. Seminary, member of the College of Consultors and Presbyteral Council, Chaplain at Msgr. McHugh Elementary School, Cresco, and Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for Monroe County.

In reaction to Pope Francis’ appointment, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton commented, “The appointment by Pope Francis of Father Kopacz to serve as the eleventh bishop of the Diocese of Jackson is cause for great joy in the Church of Scranton.

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