A 'son of the Great Lakes,' Bishop-elect McClory assures Gary he'll be a servant leader

Bishop-elect Robert McClory speaks with parishioners at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak earlier this year. On Nov. 26, Shrine's pastor was introduced to the media and faithful of the Diocese of Gary, Ind., as their fifth bishop. (Detroit Catholic file photo)

In introductory news conference, Shrine pastor says he'll devote himself to Sacred Heart, will lead Indiana diocese with Jesus' love

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. — “Jesus loves you, and so do I.”

Those were the first words Bishop-elect Robert McClory delivered to the faithful of the Diocese of Gary, Ind., on Nov. 26 as he was formally introduced at the diocese’s pastoral center in Merrillville.

Gary Bishop Emeritus Dale Melczek, a former Detroit auxiliary bishop, introduced Bishop-elect McClory to diocesan clergy, staff and local media as the diocese’s fifth bishop.

“I want to thank almighty God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as once again I consecrate myself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” Bishop-elect McClory told those gathered, a callback to his alma mater, Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

“I'd like to thank His Holiness, Pope Francis, for the confidence he has shown in me,” Bishop-elect McClory continued. “I’m humbled indeed to be given this responsibility to love and serve the people. I would like to thank, who has given me wonderful support in these days, Fr. Michael Yadron, the diocesan administrator, for him taking on this responsibility to love and serve the people of Gary.”

Watch Bishop-elect McClory's introductory news conference

Fr. Yadron has been the administrator of the Diocese of Gary since Bishop Donald J. Hying was appointed the bishop of Madison, Wis., in April.

“I was elated to receive a call from the papal nuncio (Archbishop Christophe Pierre) and delighted to hear that our Holy Father, Pope Francs, assigned Msgr. McClory to the diocese,” Fr. Yadron said. “I’m impressed with his excitement and his vision. He is going to be warmly embraced.”

Bishop-elect McClory introduced himself in a news conference that was livestreamed on the Diocese of Gary’s Facebook page, allowing for the faithful to get a glimpse of their new bishop.

“St. John Paul II gave us this image of the family as the domestic church, that every family is a microcosm of the Church,” Bishop-elect McClory said. “Likewise, the home is the domestic seminary, where the family is the first place where vocations are formed. My first seminary was on Pinehurst Street in Detroit, with my parents, Jim and Anne, my brothers, Mike and Dan, and my sister, Therese.”

Bishop-elect McClory thanked his family and talked at length about his family’s industrial roots, linking his background in Detroit to that of families in Gary, a town founded by the U.S. Steel Corporation and in many respects faces the same socio-economic challenges Detroit has.

“I’m a son of the industrial Great Lakes,” Bishop-elect McClory said. “My father retired from a steel company office in Detroit; steel is what put food on our table, so I know hard work pays off. It was a loving household where being rooted in the love of Jesus made all the difference.”

Just as the Archdiocese of Detroit had a synod in 2016, the Diocese of Gary had a synod in 2017, something Bishop Hying said would make Bishop-elect McClory suited for the position.

“What I know of Msgr. McClory’s pastoral and administrative skills and experience, clearly he will offer wisdom, insight and vision as he leads the Diocese of Gary,” Bishop Hying said. “I’m particularly pleased that he was instrumental in leading and implementing the pastoral synod of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He is uniquely poised to continue to build on Gary’s 2017 Synod.”

Following Bishop-elect McClory’s opening statement, he took questions from the public, detailing his experience as a pastor at Presentation/Our Lady of Victory Parish in inner-city Detroit, his work as a pastor of a school with a K-12 school system at Shrine, and how best to minister to young people in the Church.

“I hope to be a loving servant, not for my sake, but for the sake of Jesus,” Bishop-elect McClory said. “I look forward to getting to know the people of the Diocese of Gary, whom I already love. We live in a time, calling from the diocesan synod, where we need leaders who lead by serving. We have people who need to recover, who feel harmed by the Church, those who have suffered. We know the Lord has a beautiful purpose for us, and a new hope, a new dawn on the horizon.”

Bishop-elect McClory said the rest of his introductory day would consist of celebrating Mass, visiting a school and getting further acclimated to the diocese.

Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, the metropolitan for all the dioceses in Indiana, welcomed Bishop-elect McClory to the state, inviting him to join his brother bishops to their upcoming ad limina visit to Rome.

“We are most grateful to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for this timely appointment,” Archbishop Thompson said. “On behalf of the Province of Indianapolis, I congratulate and welcome Bishop-elect Robert McClory. The Indiana bishops and members of the Indiana Catholic Conference look forward to serving with Bishop-elect McClory as he shepherds the Diocese of Gary.”

Bishop-elect McClory will be consecrated at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels in Gary on Feb. 11, 2020, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

“I was just at Lourdes for a pilgrimage and just consecrated my priesthood to the Blessed Mother,” Bishop-elect McClory said. “So I see this as the Holy Spirit at work, and I know He will cooperate with those who do the works of Jesus Christ. Jesus loves you, and so do I.”