Pope Francis has named Father David J. Bonnar, pastor of St. Aidan Parish in Wexford,…
One of the good ones
At 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, I was jolted awake by my husband. “Father David Bonnar has been named bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown!” he exclaimed, phone in hand, having just seen the news recently reported from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic News Service.
I gasped, and then I smiled. I have had the great pleasure of working with Father Bonnar in his capacity as editor of The Priest magazine since the retirement of former longtime editor Msgr. Owen F. Campion in 2016. More than just a colleague, Father Bonnar is a friend, and his appointment to the body of bishops is a sign of encouragement and hope for the future of the U.S. Church.
Father Bonnar came on OSV’s radar thanks to a former OSV editor and publisher, the late, great Robert Lockwood. Bob had worked with Father Bonnar in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and recommended we interview him for the open position of editor of The Priest. What we found when we interviewed him is a man in love with the priesthood and consumed with a desire to accompany his brother priests in their vocation. What more could you ask for as editor of a national publication dedicated to supporting priests?
In his first column for The Priest in November 2016 — a column which would go on to be titled, fittingly, “Brother to Brother” — Father Bonnar wrote: “It is our hope as a monthly publication to assist all priests as they act in persona Christi and aim to be, in priestly life and ministry, the face of Jesus Christ. How beautiful it is when there is a smile on that face witnessing a happy and holy priesthood. There is no greater advertisement for vocations to the priesthood. It is my fervent prayer, with the help of God’s grace, our staff, and contributors, to … encourage a happy and holy priesthood with the promise of many vocations. All of this begins with a smile and the firm belief that we are called and loved by God to be his presence to the world.”
In his time as editor of The Priest, Father Bonnar has done all this and more. He has been diligent and passionate, wise and pastoral. He is keenly aware of the many stresses and challenges facing priests today, and he has worked to make the magazine a source of renewal and encouragement for them. He has embodied servant leadership, heading up the team of editors, designers and writers with joy and enthusiasm.
But more importantly than his professional accomplishments, Father Bonnar has shown himself to be a man dedicated to Christ and to his people. During his visits to Huntington to meet with the team at OSV, he has led us in prayer, celebrated the Eucharist with us and broken bread with us. He has regaled us with stories of his time as chaplain of the Pittsburgh Steelers and his great love of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has spoken candidly about the state of the Church and helped us navigate challenging times. Father Bonnar has been a great blessing to us at OSV, and now he will be a great blessing to the people of the Diocese of Youngstown. They are fortunate to have such a shepherd.
Nearly two decades into the clergy sexual abuse crisis, it can sometimes be a challenge working in and for the Church. There is so much that can get you down. But there are always things that find a way of giving us hope, too. Bishop-elect Bonnar gives me hope. And I pray that he may do the same for the good people of Youngstown, Ohio.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.