SCRANTON — When Scranton native Jeffrey Walsh graduated from the University of Scranton in health and human resources in 1987, he could never have imagined where he would be 35 years later — Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Gaylord in Michigan State.
Growing up in North Scranton, Walsh hung out at Weston Field with his buddies, graduating from Scranton Central High School in 1983, before graduating from the University of Scranton.
After graduating from college, he held various jobs and went through a relationship breakup before turning to a higher calling and making the biggest decision of his life: becoming a Catholic priest.
“I was dating in college and that relationship broke up and I was free in the sense that I could choose to go to seminary,” Bishop-elect Walsh said, deciding to become a priest. “The second thing was that my grandmother was very sick and ended up dying in the hospital and a young priest had come to visit her and pray with her every day and he had a great influence on me. Also, a seed was planted about a vocation to the priesthood when I was a student at the University of Scranton from Fr. Joe Simmons on a retreat He asked me if I had ever thought of becoming a priest and he made me put this on the radar.
Walsh saw the impact a priest could have on life and that was the deciding factor to enter the seminary.
Walsh was accepted and eventually graduated from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md. Seven years after graduating from the University of Scranton, he was ordained a priest in the town where he grew up on June 25 1994.
When asked if he was devout as a child, his response was, “If you were to talk to any of my family or my friends, they wouldn’t have used that word,” Walsh laughed. . “I could have been one of the least expected to choose a vocation to the priesthood.”
After his ordination, then Fr. Walsh’s assignments in the Diocese of Scranton included: Parish Vicar of St. Rose of Lima Parish and Director of Religious Education at Sacred Heart High School in Carbondale (1995); Parish Vicar at Saint-Pierre Cathedral (1996); Parish priest of Notre-Dame du Lac in Lake Winola (1999); Director of Education at Saint Pius X Seminary (1999); director of vocations (2002); parish priest of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Tunkhannock (2004); Regional Episcopal Vicar (2006); Administrator of Saint Rita Parish in Gouldsboro (2008); Trustee of Saint Anthony Parish in Throop (2009); Secretary of Catholic Social Services (2009); Pastor of Saint John’s Parish in East Stroudsburg (2010); and Vicar for the Clergy (2015).
Currently, he is pastor of St. Rose Parish in Lima and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Carbondale, as well as a member of the Diocesan College of Consultors and the Presbyteral Council.
On December 21, 2021, the son of Jerome and Nancy Walsh received the biggest phone call of his 27 years as a priest; he was notified by Bishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Washington, DC, that the Holy Father Pope Francis elevated him to the rank of bishop.
Bishop-elect Walsh, 56, will be the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan.
The Diocese of Gaylord covers 11,171 square miles and has a total population of 506,623 of which over 44,000 are Catholic.
Bishop-elect Walsh will be ordained a bishop and installed March 4, 2022 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Gaylord.
“With gratitude to our Holy Father Pope Francis and joy in the Lord, I look forward to beginning a new chapter of my life as a disciple among the good people of the Diocese of Gaylord,” Bishop-elect Walsh said in his Official Statement Diocese of Scranton. “I am also very grateful to God for 27 years of priestly ministry in the Diocese of Scranton.”
Bishop-elect Walsh spent five years as a sacramental minister at Our Lady of the Eucharist Catholic Church, Pittston, for the Diocese of Scranton from 2015 to 2020, a year after the father’s retirement. Thomas Maloney. Sr. Mary Ann Cody is the parish life coordinator at the church.
“This was the first of its kind in our diocese with the parish life coordinator model,” Bishop-elect Walsh said. “I was the very first sacramental minister in the diocese and that’s what my role was there in the church.”
According to Bishop-elect Walsh, there are five or six models of sacramental ministers in the Diocese of Scranton based on the success of Our Lady of the Eucharist.
“I loved my time there at Our Lady of the Eucharist,” Bishop-elect Walsh said. “It was five years at the (Pittston) junction and I met a lot of other people in the Pittston area as well.”
While serving in the city of Pittston, Bishop-elect Walsh’s most commemorative moments were spending his 25th birthday as a priest as well as Sister Mary Ann’s 50th birthday as a nun in church. Our Lady of the Eucharist.
Bishop-elect Walsh was a recent guest celebrant with the Oblates of St. Joseph at the request of a longtime friend, Fr. Paul McDonald, to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spouses. At the end of the mass, several of his former parishioners were present to wish him good luck as the new Bishop of Gaylord.
“I have been blessed with a strong, but by no means ‘perfect’ family, which also includes my two brothers (James and Joseph), two nieces, a nephew, aunts and uncles and many cousins close siblings,” Bishop-elect Walsh said. added, according to its official press release. “Looking to the future, I hope to bring a missionary spirit to my episcopal ministry under the mantle of Divine Providence. From ‘Penn’s Woods’ to ‘Great Lakes’ country, I trust in God’s loving plan.