At a Nov. 14 Mass, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl conferred papal honors upon members of the Papal Visit Planning Committee, including then-Msgr. Barry Knestout, the co-chair of the committee, who received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross for service to the Church and to the  pope. Six days later, Msgr. Knestout was named as a new auxiliary bishop of Washington by Pope Benedict XVI.
CS PHOTO BY MICHAEL HOYT
At a Nov. 14 Mass, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl conferred papal honors upon members of the Papal Visit Planning Committee, including then-Msgr. Barry Knestout, the co-chair of the committee, who received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross for service to the Church and to the pope. Six days later, Msgr. Knestout was named as a new auxiliary bishop of Washington by Pope Benedict XVI. CS PHOTO BY MICHAEL HOYT
Four days after Christmas, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl will ordain new Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout for the Archdiocese of Washington, with Auxiliary Bishops Francisco Gonzalez and Martin Holley serving as co-consecrators.

In a recent interview, Archbishop Wuerl praised the pastoral ability and priestly spirit of the man who will become Washington's newest auxiliary bishop.

"One of the very impressive qualities of Bishop Knestout is his kindness, and his patience," he said of the man who has served as moderator of the curia (chief of staff) and vicar of administration for the archdiocese since last year. "Those are very helpful qualities when dealing with the responsibility of oversight" in which he's now engaged.

Archbishop Wuerl said another "important factor, and why I appointed him as moderator of the curia, is he knows the archdiocese and is known by all the priests and many of the faithful."

The archbishop praised the wide range of pastoral and administrative experiences that the new bishop has undertaken in his nearly 20 years as a priest, which include serving at several local parishes, being the priest secretary for two archbishops, and leading archdiocesan youth ministry and pastoral ministry and social concerns programs. Earlier this year, then-Msgr. Knestout served as co-chair of the Papal Visit Planning Committee, playing a key role with the team that prepared for Pope Benedict's April visit to Washington.

On Dec. 29, Archbishop Wuerl will ordain Auxiliary Bishop Knestout, whom he introduced at a Nov. 18 press conference by noting the new bishop is a "native son of the archdiocese. He was born, formed in the faith and educated here. He enjoys extensive personal experience of this Church and a sense of continuity with its pastoral life."

Bishop Knestout, who grew up in Bowie as a member of St. Pius X Parish, will become the first bishop of the archdiocese from Prince George's County.

In his homily at the episcopal ordination, Archbishop Wuerl will offer advice to the new bishop, emphasizing that "first of all, a bishop is a teacher. That will always be his first responsibility."

In addition to teaching the faith and presiding at Confirmations at parishes, the auxiliary bishops assist the archbishop in governing the archdiocese and in fostering the unity of the local Catholic community. Archbishop Wuerl said that listening, consultation, collaboration and fostering teamwork are key parts of the work.

In the interview, Archbishop Wuerl also discussed how special it will be for him to celebrate Christmas in the Archdiocese of Washington, first with a midnight Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral on Christmas Eve, then with a Christmas Day Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Archbishop Wuerl was installed as the archbishop of Washington in 2006 after being bishop for 18 years in his native Pittsburgh.

"There's something very wonderful about being able, as pastors do, to celebrate Christmas with the faithful of the archdiocese around the altar of the Lord," he said, noting that is the most joyful part of Christmas for him.

Visiting parishes, he said, is what he enjoys the most as the archbishop here. "We have a very vibrant Church in the archdiocese," he said, praising the fidelity and dedication of local parish priests, and the faith and work of laypeople, religious and deacons. "You see it in our schools, religious education programs, and our outreach to the poor and needy. The vitality of the archdiocese, that's where you see the face of the Church, and the grace of God at work in the Church."

Archbishop Wuerl said he is inspired by the "thriving, very faith-filled Church (here). I thank God every day, I include a prayer of thanksgiving for all the people who do so much, and bring so much faith to this Church."