Recently, I read about the appointment, in the United States, of Bishop Salvatore Matano as Bishop of Rochester. He succeeds Bishop Matthew Clark, who headed the diocese since his appointment in 1979. In other words, Bishop Clark held that see for almost exactly my entire life until now. That is quite a long time for a bishop to remain in one place, although there may be much to be said for a shepherd to lead one flock for as long as he can.
The above made me wonder what other bishops have such a long time in a single see behind them. A little bit of reasearch resulted in the top 10 I present below. I have only looked at bishops who are still in office, and I have taken their date of consecration as the starting date of the office (if they were consecrated before being appointed to their current sees, I took the date of appointment as a basis).
10. Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai
Bishop of Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho
Consecrated on 2 April 1978
At 84, Bishop Khoarai is well past retirement age, but continues in office as ordinary of Mohale’s Hoek. He became the first bishop of that diocese when it was split off from the Archdiocese of Maseru in 1977.
9. Bishop Philip Sulumeti
Bishop of Kakamega, Kenya
Appointed on 28 February 1978
Also past retirement age, at 76, Bishop Sulumeti was auxiliary bishop of his native Diocese of Kisumu (today an archdiocese) from 1972 to 1976, and bishop of the same circumscription from 1976 to 1978, before being appointment to Kakamega when that diocese was split off from Kisumu.
8. Bishop Jean-Claude Bouchard
Bishop of Pala, Chad
Consecrated on 1 May 1977
Canadian-born Bishop Bouchard is the third bishop of the Chadian Diocese of Pala. He is a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary society, which explains his appointment to the central African country.
7. Bishop Howard James Hubbard
Bishop of Albany, United States
Consecrated on 27 March 1977
A few weeks into the retirement age of 75, Bishop Hubbard may not have to wait overly long before ending his 36 years as bishop of Albany. He is the longest-serving American bishop and also the longest-serving western ordinary.
6. Archbishop Hieronymus Herculanus Bumbun
Archbishop of Pontianak, Indonesia
Appointed on 26 February 1977
After two years as Pontianak’s auxiliary bishop, from 1975 to 1977, Archbishop Bumbun became the archdiocese’s first native ordinary. At 76, the Capuchin bishop is also past retirement age.
5. Bishop Gilbert Guillaume Marie-Jean Aubry
Bishop of Saint-Denis-de-la-Réunion
Consecrated on 2 May 1976
A native of the French possession of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, Bishop Aubry was appointed at the fairly young age of 34.
4. Bishop Franghískos Papamanólis
Bishop of Syros (e Milos), Greece
Bishop of Santorini, Greece
Ordained on 20 October 1974
Bishops in Greece tend to stay in office for a long time, and new appointments are rarely made, which explains the presence of two Greek ordinaries in this list. Capuchin Bishop Papamanólis is the ordinary of two dioceses and also Apostolic Administrator of Crete.
3. Archbishop Nikólaos Fóscolos
Archbishop of Athenai, Greece
Consecrated on 12 August 1973
The archbishop of Greece’s capital came to the see at the age of 36 and continues still at almost 77.
2. Archbishop Hovhannes Tcholakian
Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Istanbul, Turkey
Consecrated on 5 March 1967
The Armenian Catholic Church does not know a mandatory retirement age, which is why Archbishop Tcholakian is still in office at 94. He is considered the oldest serving ordinary of the Catholic Church, but not the oldest non-retired bishop…
1. Bishop Dominik Kalata
Consecrated on 9 September 1955
That honour goes to Bishop Kalata, the Polish-born prelate who is not an ordinary, and never has been. One of the eastern European clerics consecrated bishops in secret during the Cold War, Bishop Kalata was given a titular see, Semta, in 1985, when relations between east and west were warming, but the Holy See never got around to appointing him to a regular see, unlike some other bishops who were consecrated at the same time. The Jesuit bishop now resides in Germany and does pastoral work in the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau.