Bishops elect Msgr. Bransfield as general secretary of USCCB

The U.S. bishops Nov. 17 elected Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield as the new general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He has been associate general secretary of the conference for five years, working alongside the current general secretary, Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, whose term is ending.

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Msgr. Bransfield, a Philadelphia archdiocesan priest, will step into the position in 2016. His term will run for five years. The general secretariat oversees the work of the USCCB on behalf of the U.S. bishops.

The bishops chose Msgr. Bransfield over Father Shawn McKnight, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. No vote tally was announced by Msgr. Jenkins.

The bishops also elected Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati as treasurer-elect. He received 126 votes to 110 for Bishop John M. LeVoir of New Ulm, Minnesota, on the second day of the USCCB's annual fall general assembly in Baltimore.

Next year, Archbishop Schnurr will succeed the current USCCB treasurer, Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas.

The bishops also voted for chairmen-elect for six standing committees: Divine Worship; Migration; Domestic Justice and Human Development; Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations; Catholic Education; and Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. Other elections were for the boards of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, or CLINIC.

The committee chairmen-elect each will begin a three-year term as chairmen at the end of the bishops' fall general assembly in 2016:

-- Committee on Divine Worship: Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta elected over Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pennsylvania, 124-114.

-- Committee on Migration: Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles received 140 votes, Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, received 58 votes, and Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, who was nominated from the floor, received 21 votes.

-- Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development: Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, elected over Bishop Robert J. McElroy of San Diego, 128-111.

-- Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations: Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis elected over Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, 144-96.

-- Committee on Catholic Education: Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, elected over Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, 132-106.

-- Committee for Laity Marriage, Family Life and Youth: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia elected over Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, 141-98.

When this year's fall assembly comes to a close, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans will become secretary of the USCCB. The archbishop was chosen secretary-elect during the 2014 bishops' assembly. He succeeds the current USCCB secretary, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who is finishing his three-year term.

The other USCCB officers are: Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz Louisville, Kentucky, president; and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, vice president.

Also several chairmen-elect also chosen last year will become committee chairmen at the end of this assembly:

-- Communications: Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, succeeding Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

-- Cultural Diversity in the Church: Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, succeeding of Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas.

-- National Collections: Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, succeeding Cincinnati's Archbishop Schnurr.

-- Pro-Life Activities: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, succeeding Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley.

At the USCCB, Father Bransfield was part of the Task Force for Faith Formation before he was named executive director of the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis. He also served on what is now the bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. In March 2009, he was named assistant USCCB general secretary. He was named associate general secretary a year later.

Ordained in 1994, Msgr. Bransfield has a licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington. He served in parish and high school ministry, seminary formation and graduate teaching before coming to the USCCB in 2007 as a theology specialist in the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis.

Father Bransfield wrote a book on Pope John Paul II called "The Human Person: According to John Paul II." He is a frequent speaker on new evangelization, marriage and family and the theology of the body. He also has given retreats to priests and religious throughout the country.

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