Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome E. Listecki (left) with Bishop Donald J. Hying, who will be installed as the bishop of the Diocese of Madison on June 25. (File photo)

For close to six months, the episcopal seat in the Diocese of Madison has been empty, following the sudden death of Bishop Robert C. Morlino on Nov. 24, 2018, at the age of 71.

It was announced Thursday, April 25, that the Vatican has designated a new shepherd for the more than 288,000 faithful of Madison — and it’s a name that most Milwaukeeans will know well.

Bishop Donald J. Hying, a West Allis native who was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1989 and currently leads the Diocese of Gary, Indiana, was named as the fifth bishop of Madison.

At a press conference that day at Holy Name Heights, the diocesan headquarters in Madison, Bishop Hying said he was “very enthused, excited and grateful” to be coming to serve the diocese.

He mentioned at the press conference that he has many family members who reside in the diocese of Madison, and praised “the beauty of faith and the beauty of the land” in the 11-county diocese, which encompasses 102 parishes in southwest Wisconsin.

“I feel very much at home here,” he said, adding that “Madison is a significant community because it is the capital of the state and the university, here. There’s a great significance to what happens in this city and in this diocese. I’m very grateful to be a part of it.”

He said that he plans to “build on the great foundation of Bishop Morlino,” and hopes to meet with every priest and deacon in the diocese, “to get to know them as people,” and to make the goal of visiting every parish, school and community within the next year.

“I know Bishop Hying will be a source of strength for the faithful in Madison because of his unwavering integrity, devotion and deep spirituality,” said Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki in an April 25 statement. “I am proud to welcome him ‘home’ to Wisconsin and look forward to serving alongside him once again. Let us all lift our hearts in prayer, and ask the Resurrected Lord to continue to guide Bishop Hying with his grace.”

Bishop Hying was born Aug. 18, 1963,  in West Allis, the youngest of six sons of Albert and Catherine Hying. He attended St. Aloysius and Immaculate Heart of Mary grade schools and Brookfield Central High School. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Marquette University in 1985 and his master’s degree from St. Francis Seminary.

After his ordination, Bishop Hying served as the parochial vicar for St. Anthony Parish in Menomonee Falls from 1989-94; he was then assigned as associate pastor for La Sagrada Familia Parroquia in the Dominican Republic, a post he held until 1997. In 1998, he returned to the United States and served as the parochial administrator of St. Peter Parish, and then as the parochial vicar of St. Anthony Parish in Milwaukee from 1998-99. He was then appointed pastor of Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, where he served from 1999 to 2005, when he became the Dean of Formation at St. Francis de Sales Seminary. In 2006, he also served as the parochial administrator of St. Augustine Parish in Milwaukee. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him the Titular Bishop of Regiae and the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He was consecrated a bishop July 20, 2011.

During Bishop Hying’s three years as an auxiliary bishop in his native diocese, he became known to the faithful for his easy-going and down-to-earth manner and accessible personality, and his devotion to the truth and beauty of the Church’s doctrine paired with the embodiment of his episcopal motto, “Caritas Numquam Excidit” — love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

It was a philosophy he embraced during his introductory press conference.

“Truth without love becomes harsh, rigid, judgmental,” he said. “Love without truth becomes sentimental and kind of just devoid of content … when you fuse love and truth together, you have the firepower of the Gospel. The Church’s mission is always to speak the truth that God has revealed to us, but do so with love and compassion.”

It was in 2014 that Pope Francis named Bishop Hying as the successor of Most Rev. Dale Joseph Melczek as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Gary, which serves 186,000 Catholics in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Starke counties in northwest Indiana. While the bishop of Gary, he led the faithful through a diocesan Synod in 2017.

Bishop Hying’s installation has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 25, at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison.