Pope Francis Appoints Seminary Alumnus to Lead Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul J. Bradley, 77, and appointed Monsignor Edward M. Lohse, 61, as the fifth Bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo. The resignation and appointment were announced Tuesday, May 23, by the Holy See in Rome.

Bishop-elect Lohse is currently the vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Erie. Ordination of the new bishop has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, at Saint Augustine Cathedral, Kalamazoo.

As required by Church law, Bishop Bradley submitted his resignation to the Holy Father when he turned 75, on October 18, 2020. Bishop Bradley, who has served the diocese since his installation on June 5, 2009, will continue as apostolic administrator until Bishop-elect Lohse’s ordination.

Bishop-elect Lohse is the sixth of seven children born to his parents, the late Edward and Ida Lohse, who raised their family in their hometown of McKean, Pa. He graduated from Cathedral Preparatory School and continued his education at Gannon University, Erie, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He continued his seminary studies at Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, graduating with a Master of Divinity, with highest honors, in 1987 and completing his requirements for ordination in 1988. More recently, Bishop-elect Lohse furthered his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University earning both a License (2002) and Doctorate in Canon Law (2016).

He was ordained a priest by the late Bishop Michael J. Murphy on April 21, 1989, at Saint Peter Cathedral, Erie. His first pastoral appointment was as a parochial vicar for Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish, Corry. He was recognized by Pope Francis in 2015 as a Chaplain to his Holiness with the title Monsignor.

Throughout his thirty-four years as a priest, Bishop-elect Lohse has served in a number of pastoral, educational and diocesan assignments both for the Diocese of Erie as well as the Vatican. He has held administrative roles including director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, chancellor and vocation director for the Diocese. Additionally, he served as an official of the Congregation for the Clergy (a dicastery within the Vatican curia) from 2010-2015 and was an adjunct member of the faculty (from 2011-2015) for the Pontifical North American College, Vatican City.

Bishop-elect Lohse received the Alumnus of Distinction Award from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2016. He served as a member of the Saint Vincent Seminary Board of Regents from 2003 to 2010 and received an honorary degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2010.

“The Saint Vincent Seminary community rejoices in the appointment of Monsignor Edward Lohse as the new Bishop of Kalamazoo,” said Rector Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B. “Over more than three decades of priestly ministry he has demonstrated sincere devotion to the Lord, zeal for living and sharing the Gospel, and a natural sense of prudence and wisdom. His experience and above all his pastor’s heart will make him a true shepherd for the faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.”

“With thanksgiving to our Loving God and with deep gratitude to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, our Diocese’s wait for our new Shepherd has yielded a wonderful gift in the selection of Bishop-Elect Edward M. Lohse as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo,” said Bishop Bradley. “We welcome him with open arms and hearts filled with joy. May he walk with us, teaching us and leading us in the ways of hope-filled disciples of our Risen Lord.”

A press conference introducing Bishop-Elect Lohse to the Diocese of Kalamazoo was held on Tuesday, May 23 and livestreamed.

Expressing gratitude to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Robert Prevos, the prefect for the Congregation to Bishops, and the Holy Father, Bishop Bradley said that one aspect of his episcopal motto, “Waiting in Joyful Hope,” has been answered as far as who will replace him.

“I’ve never relied as much on that hope for these past two years and seven months since I submitted my letter requesting retirement, as required by canon law,” Bishop Bradley said. “It has been a privilege for me to have been a bishop of this great diocese for the past fourteen years.”

Bishop Bradley is from McKeesport, and was a Pittsburgh diocesan priest, and then he became auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh from 2004 to 2009. He was diocesan administrator for a period of time before the ordination of Bishop David Zubik.

“Timing always comes in God’s providence at the right time,” Bishop Bradley said. “Things happen as they are supposed to.”

Turning to Monsignor Lohse, Bishop Bradley said, “we’ve been waiting for you. We welcome you with open arms and a joyful heart. I have spent time talking with you this past week and I can say with great confidence and hope that you will lead our diocese with Christ-like love for God’s people. I know you are mindful of the people entrusted to your care back in Erie. That is one great indicator is the care and attention of a shepherd to his flock. Your flock now becomes a bit bigger.”

“I am both humbled and honored to be asked by the Holy Father to become the fifth Bishop of Kalamazoo, and I am grateful to Bishop Bradley for his support,” said Bishop-elect Lohse. “The task ahead is a daunting one, but none of us walks the path of faith alone. I know that I will need to count on the prayers of Bishop Bradley, the priests, religious and laity of the diocese, and I pledge my prayers for them in return. Together, we will go forward to proclaim Christ, and to meet him in the hearts of all God’s people in the Diocese of Kalamazoo.”

As Bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Bishop-elect Lohse will be the chief shepherd of the close to 80,000 Catholics who reside in the nine counties of Southwest Michigan that make up the Diocese: Allegan, Barry, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch.

“First and foremost, hello,” said Bishop-elect Lohse. “And greetings to all of you in the Lord, Jesus. Today, as fellow disciples and as brothers and sisters we begin to share, you and I together, an adventure in the Lord’s call, and following the Lord’s call, an adventure in discipleship. This will be our common journey together.”

Stating that he was both humbled and honored to be asked to become the fifth bishop of Kalamazoo, Bishop-elect Lohse said he was also surprised, as well as “grateful to the Holy Father for his confidence in me, and I assure him of my prayers.”

He added that thanks to the work of Bishop Bradley, “we will be building on a solid foundation.”

Bishop-elect Lohse thanked Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Diocese of Erie, also a Seminary alumnus, as well as the priests, deacons, religious and laity of Erie. “He (Bishop Persico) has been a wonderful role model for me. I have learned much from him and I have been deeply formed and touched not just by his witness but also by that of so many others in the Diocese of Erie who quietly, or I must say at times not so quietly, have lived out their faith in Jesus.”

He also thanked his family, Archbishop Pierre, Archbishop Allen Vigneron, metropolitan of the province in Detroit, for their help and support, as well as Bishop Bradley.

Promising to give his all, Bishop-elect Lohse said that “I know that the task ahead is a daunting one. I am aware of that. But none of us walks the path of faith alone. I look forward to this journey together and I am counting on your prayers. You will certainly be in mine. Together we will proclaim Christ and we will meet Him in the hearts of all of these people in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. We cannot know exactly what the future will hold. We don’t know where the future will take us. But we trust in the Providence of God. Whatever future awaits, He will be with us.”

Bishop-elect Lohse said the first thing he hopes to bring to the diocese is a “heart committed to Christ. If that is not there, nothing else will follow. So, the first thing is a heart committed to Christ.”

He said that in terms of his background and experience, “growing up in a big family provides a lot of human formation.” He said that his brothers and sisters had many “opportunities to practice virtue as I have called forth their patience in me.”

He said his background as a high school teacher, vocation director, a canonist, and diocesan vicar general, have all contributed to his experience and should aid him in his future work.

“We weathered the Pennsylvania grand jury and the pandemic,” he said, among other things, “so hopefully I bring in the best sense some battle scars that will be profitable in terms of learning from the school of life.”

Speaking not only in reference to the Catholics of Kalamazoo, but to all those living a life of faith, Bishop-elect Lohse said that “we are on a common journey. I am joining it in progress. I look forward to a common journey together. What we share is far more abundant than what differs. I hope that we find common ground as we move forward. We are all disciples of the Lord. He is the one who must guide us.”

He said that when he is challenged, he looks to martyrs. “I look to the martyrs and say, ‘you held nothing back. Help me to hold nothing back. You valued Christ more than your own self. Help me to do the same’.”