Office of the Bishop

Pope Francis appoints Bishop Walter Hurley Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Saginaw  

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Walter A. Hurley, Bishop Emeritus of Grand Rapids, as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Saginaw on Oct. 17. In this capacity, Bishop Hurley serves as the caretaker for the diocese during this time of transition, addressing the spiritual needs of the diocese and keeping things working in an orderly way until the new bishop is appointed.

Following the sudden death of Bishop Joseph Cistone, the apostolic nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre— the Pope’s representative in the United States— contacted Bishop Hurley and asked if he would be willing to serve as the apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Saginaw. When Bishop Hurley accepted, Archbishop Pierre contacted the Vatican for approval. The following morning, Oct. 17, Bishop Hurley received confirmation that Pope Francis had appointed him to the position. 

The role of an apostolic administrator is to administer the diocese until a new residential bishop is appointed and takes office. The term apostolic refers to the fact Bishop Hurley holds this post by papal appointment.

“I am not taking the place of Bishop Cistone, although I have all the authority of a bishop within a diocese,” Bishop Hurley said in a press conference Oct. 18. “I’m the apostolic administrator and I’m in a sense, if you will, the pastor of the local Church until a new bishop is appointed.”

Bishop Hurley described it as “a shepherding role.”

“Essentially, our work is to do the Lord’s work and my role is to be the pastor to help people do that,” he said.

Bishop Hurley is well-versed in the role of a shepherd. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1965, pastored many parishes and served as the chief of staff for Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, former Archbishop of Detroit. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2003. He continued to serve in the archdiocese until 2005, when he was installed as the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, a position he held for nearly eight years until his retirement in 2013. Since his retirement, he has remained active in serving the Church, particularly in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Bishop Hurley is well-known for his work with Catholic Charities West Michigan, for establishing FAITH Grand Rapids magazine, orchestrating the development and construction of Cathedral Square in Grand Rapids, and much more.

“I regard it as a grace and a privilege to be able to be here and to serve the Church in any way that I can be helpful,” Bishop Hurley said.

Bishop Hurley noted that although he has no agenda for his time as the apostolic administrator in the Diocese of Saginaw, he plans to be an active part of diocesan life.

“I will certainly be present here in the diocese. I’ll be present at many of the diocesan gatherings that take place, I will probably be visiting some of the parishes, not with any particular agenda in mind but simply to walk with people during this time,” he said.