WASHINGTON (January 18, 2001) -- Pope John Paul II has named Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr, General Secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference (NCCB/USCC), to be Bishop of Duluth.
Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, made the announcement. Bishop-elect Schnurr succeeds Coadjutor Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz, OMI, of Anchorage who served as Bishop of Duluth from 1990 until his appointment to Anchorage last year.
In a brief statement to the staff of the Bishops' Conference, the Bishop-elect said, "I am grateful to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, for the opportunity he is giving me to serve as Bishop of Duluth. I am particularly thankful to him for his call to serve in a part of the country which I feel comfortable in immediately calling home."
He added, "I accept this call with great humility. As all of us who serve the Bishops' Conference know, the office of Bishop faces many challenges today which can only be met with God's grace and the support of the whole church community. I ask for your continued prayers and support which have meant so much to me over the last 11 years."
Dennis Marion Schnurr was born in Sheldon, Iowa, on June 21, 1948, and raised in Hospers, Iowa. His father, now deceased, was Edward Schnurr. His mother Eleanor (Jungers) Schnurr continues to reside in Hospers.
Bishop-elect Schnurr was educated at local Catholic schools and Loras College, Dubuque. He studied for the priesthood at the North American College and the Gregorian University, both in Rome, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Sioux City on July 20, 1974.
After parochial assignments in the diocese, Bishop-elect Schnurr was sent for graduate studies at The Catholic University of America. He then served the Diocese of Sioux City as Vice Chancellor (1980-1981) and Chancellor (1981-1985), Finance Officer (1980-1985), and Judge of the diocesan Tribunal (1980-1985). He also served as Secretary of the Presbyteral Council and a member of the Board of Consultors.
In 1985, Bishop-elect Schnurr was assigned to the staff of the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. There his duties consisted in giving advice in canon law, monitoring the financial affairs, and researching issues of interest to the Church.
In 1989, Bishop-elect Schnurr was appointed an Associate General Secretary of the NCCB/USCC. He supervised, in particular, the USCC departments which deal with public policy and was the principal staff person for an assessment and overhaul of the Conferences' budgeting and staffing procedures.
From 1991 to 1993, Bishop-elect Schnurr also served as the National Executive Director of World Youth Day 1993. He oversaw the preparations for and implementation of the five-day international gathering of young people in Denver, Colorado, sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Laity. The event included the participation of over 500,000 young people and the personal participation of Pope John Paul II.
In 1995, the Bishops elected Monsignor Schnurr the General Secretary of the NCCB/USCC. In this position, he has overseen the overall operation of the Conference, supervised a staff of approximately 350 people, managed an annual budget of $50 million, arranged for and participated in meetings which brought together the bishops' conferences of the Western Hemisphere, and staffed the semi-annual visits of the NCCB/USCC president and vice-president with the offices of the Roman Curia.
In 1997 Pope John Paul II appointed the Bishop-elect a delegate to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America held during November-December of that year.
After his initial term as General Secretary, Monsignor Schnurr was re-elected to an additional term of one year in 1999.
Monsignor Schnurr holds an MA in theology from the Gregorian University and a doctorate in canon law from the The Catholic University of America.
He was named a Prelate of Honor, with the title of monsignor, by Pope John Paul II personally in 1993 on the occasion of World Youth Day in Denver.
Along with this mother, Eleanor, Monsignor Schnurr's immediate family consists of three sisters and two brothers, 7 nephews and 8 nieces, and 4 grandnephews and 6 grandnieces.
Galveston-Houston Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, president of the NCCB/USCC, issued a statement congratulating Bishop-elect Schnurr.
"The service given to the Church in the United States throughout his priesthood by Bishop-elect Schnurr has been of extraordinary quality," Bishop Fiorenza said.
"The Bishops have come to have tremendous confidence in him through his service at the Nunciature and as an associate general secretary and the general secretary of the Conference," Bishop Fiorenza continued.
"We rejoice that our Holy Father has recognized his great ability, and we gladly welcome him now as a brother bishop," he added.
"The priests and people of Duluth are indeed fortunate to have this outstanding priest as their new shepherd in the Lord," Bishop Fiorenza concluded.