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12/23/2008 9:52:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
New Washington Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout Photo by Paul Fetters
Bishop-elect Barry Knestoutís personal milestones
Bishop: On Nov. 18, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Mgr. Barry Knestout as a new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington. Bishop Knestout will be ordained as a bishop on Dec. 29 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington.

Born: June 11, 1962 in Cheverly, Md., to Thomas and Caroline Knestout. Grew up in Bowie with five brothers and three sisters. Deacon Thomas Knestout died in 1997.

Education: St. Pius X School in Bowie, Bowie Senior High School, University of Maryland (bachelor of science from School of Architecture, 1984), and Mount St. Mary's College and Seminary, Emmitsburg (master of divinity and master of arts in moral theology)

Priesthood: Ordained one of 10 new priests for Archdiocese of Washington on June 24, 1989, by Cardinal James Hickey at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Named a monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1999.

Parish work: Seminarian summer assignment at Mother Seton Parish, Germantown, 1987; transitional diaconate assignment, Mount Calvary Parish, Forestville, 1988-89. After ordination to priesthood, parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew Parish in Bethesda (1989-93) and at St. Peter's Parish in Waldorf (1993-94); and pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Silver Spring (2004-06).

Administrative work: Priest secretary to Cardinal Hickey, 1994-2004; priest secretary to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 2001 and from 2003-04; executive director of archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry/Catholic Youth Organization, 2001-03; archdiocesan secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns, 2006-07; then named moderator of curia and vicar for administration for Archdiocese of Washington, 2007-present.

Family roots of faith shape new auxiliary bishop

MARK ZIMMERMANN
Editor

Eleven days before his ordination as a new auxiliary bishop of Washington, Bishop Barry Knestout went on a retreat at Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg. In that beautiful, quiet setting 20 years ago, he studied to be a priest.

On Dec. 29 when he is ordained as a bishop at St. Matthew's Cathedral, he will become the 50th graduate of Mount St. Mary's Seminary to become a bishop.

"At the Mount, I was prepared to be a parish priest, with a good pastoral heart to care for the needs of people. I hope as a bishop, that aspect of priestly life will be reflected," he said in a recent interview.

As a bishop, a key responsibility for him will be to teach the faith. "You teach by words, and by example," he said.

A 46-year-old native of Bowie, he grew up in a family of nine children, including a brother, Father Mark Knestout, who serves with him in the Archdiocese of Washington. Both say they were inspired by the example of their parents, Thomas and Caroline Knestout. Deacon Thomas Knestout died in 1997, and Caroline Knestout is a retired nurse.

Being active in the life of their parish and school, St. Pius X, "was part and parcel of what our life was like... It was what he did," Bishop Knestout said, adding that his parents' example of faith was "part of the fabric of life."

At St. Pius X, the future bishop learned to write in cursive, and the Sisters of St. Joseph, the parish priests and lay teachers helped prepare him for the sacraments. A First Communion photo snapped in the family's yard shows Barry Knestout and his twin brother Thomas, smiling sheepishly as they wore a garment resembling the dalmatic worn by a bishop or priest.

"Bowie was a great place to grow up," he said. "We always had great priests, down to earth" men. Bishop Knestout said the Bowie families had a "good balance" in meeting the responsibilities at their homes, churches, schools and jobs.

Just as his family once centered its life around prayer and the Mass, so does Bishop Knestout today, in his work as moderator of the curia (chief of staff) and vicar for administration for the archdiocese. Prayer helps give him a sense of peace as he begins his daily work, seeking to do "what the Lord would want me to do," he said.

In his own experiences as a parish priest, Bishop Knestout said his greatest joy came in celebrating the sacraments with the people, ranging from daily and Sunday Masses, to presiding at Baptisms, First Communions, First Confessions, Marriages, Anointing the Sick and celebrating Funeral Masses. After he was ordained to the priesthood in 1989, he served as a parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew in Bethesda and St. Peter's in Waldorf, before later becoming pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Silver Spring.

"You know God's present there. You're an instrument of (God's) grace," he said. In celebrating the sacraments for people, a priest is "witnessing life unfold, and grace unfold, right before you."

At the University of Maryland, he studied architecture and worked as a draftsman for an architectural firm before entering the seminary. Now he sees similarities in the experiences then and now, in working together with a team of people to solve problems and meet needs.

Bishop Knestout said that when he is facing a challenging issue, "I try to step back a bit, (and ask) 'What is the problem? What needs to be done. Who do you need to call in, who has the expertise to deal with it.' (You) think it through, and (then) act."

Doing the work of church administration does have its pastoral side, he said. "Every aspect of our work does have a pastoral element, because it's the work of the Church... We're trying to express Christ's charity and Christ's truth, in such a way that we draw others to that charity and truth."

And just as each day in parish life comes with surprises, so too does administrative work. Since he was named as a new auxiliary bishop for Washington by Pope Benedict XVI this past month, Bishop Knestout has faced the challenge of continuing to fulfill his daily administrative work, while also making plans for his episcopal ordination.

But he said he has benefited from the good example of the three archbishops whom he has served.

In 1994, then-Father Knestout was assigned to serve as Cardinal Hickey's priest secretary, work that he carried out until the cardinal's death 10 years later (see related story on page 14).

Since last year, Bishop Knestout has served as moderator of the curia, working closely with Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl.

"I'm honored to serve him," the new bishop said. "I admire him greatly as someone, like all our bishops, with complete dedication to the needs of the Church, with complete self giving for the work of the Church, and with a real courage in dealing with challenging issues. He's a great shepherd."

Earlier, Bishop Knestout also served as a priest secretary to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whom he said he admires for his dedicated work and his ability to "identify with a whole range of people within the Church, from the wealthiest to the humblest."

In his free time over the years, the new bishop has enjoyed drawing, outdoor activities and reading, and he still owns a drawing table. Now as Bishop Knestout seeks to hand on the faith, he has a similar goal to his days working in architecture, as he tries to build up the Church and its spiritual and pastoral work, "so you have something that endures," he said.

And the episcopal motto chosen by Bishop Knestout reflects the papal visit he helped plan, and the foundation of faith he received from his family and his parish -- "Christ Our Hope."



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