By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff writer | Published September 21, 2016
ATLANTA—Pope Francis has appointed Bishop David P. Talley, auxiliary bishop of the Atlanta Archdiocese, to serve the people of the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana, as coadjutor bishop to Bishop Ronald P. Herzog, the bishop of that diocese.
The appointment was announced Wednesday, Sept. 21.
In a statement, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said that the pope has given the people of the Diocese of Alexandria a “tremendous pastoral gift.”
Archbishop Gregory said, “Bishop Talley is a servant minister of our Church, who is graced with extraordinary wisdom, patience, kindness, and dedication. He developed those gifts as priest and bishop here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, where he always cared for our people as a true minister of mercy and kindness.”
He added, “Thus he now begins this new appointment with exceptional credentials.”
The Mass of Welcome in Alexandria is planned for Monday, Nov. 7.
A native of Columbus, Georgia, Bishop Talley, 66, was ordained a priest on June 3, 1989, at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, by Archbishop Eugene Marino, SSJ. He earned a licentiate and doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, Italy. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the archdiocese, including as pastor of three metro Atlanta parishes, the archdiocesan vocations director, the chancellor of the archdiocese, and as judicial vicar of the Metropolitan Tribunal.
He was named a prelate of honor, with the title of monsignor, by Pope John Paul II in May 2001. On Dec. 17, 2012, he was named an auxiliary bishop of the Atlanta Archdiocese by Pope Benedict XVI.
He became the first native-born Georgian to serve as a bishop in the Atlanta Archdiocese when he was ordained on April 2, 2013. His episcopal motto is “He will give you a new heart.”
When he was director of vocations, the archdiocese initiated a cross-cultural immersion program for seminarians where they spent time living in El Paso, Texas, and in Juarez, Mexico, to learn Spanish and be more knowledgeable about Hispanic culture and more skilled at ministering in a variety of communities.
One of his roles in the archdiocese is as chaplain to the Disabilities Ministry. His experience ministering among people with disabilities, which began at his first parish assignment, is key to his spiritual life, he said.
“All they can do is ask the Lord for help. That simplicity and humility is where I think the church should be—humble before God,” he said, in a Georgia Bulletin interview in 2013.
Bishop Talley was raised as a Southern Baptist but has said he left the church as a teenager over the issue of racial segregation. At Auburn University he met Catholics and read the writings of Thomas Merton, which led him to become Catholic, he said. He was 24 when he joined the church at St. Mary Church in Opelika, Alabama.
Family members remain faithful Baptists, including a brother who is a deacon. That background gives him a broad view, he said. “I do know a faith across the spectrum,” he told The Georgia Bulletin.
Bishop Talley also received a master’s degree in social work at the University of Georgia. For a time before entering the seminary, he worked as a caseworker in Atlanta’s Fulton County to protect children from abuse. He studied at St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana, before ordination, where he received a master of divinity degree.
Bishop Talley also currently serves as Vicar General and Director of Priest Personnel and is a member of the Council of Priests and the Committee for Ongoing Formation. He serves on various committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, such as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Special Assembly Planning Committee, and the Secretariat of Child & Youth Protection Services.
As coadjutor bishop, Bishop Talley will assist Bishop Herzog, working in harmony with him in governance of the Alexandria Diocese. A coadjutor bishop has the right of succession, and so Bishop Talley will succeed Bishop Herzog at the time of his retirement. Bishop Herzog has served the Diocese of Alexandria as bishop since January 2005.
The Alexandria Diocese, consisting of 13 counties, includes some 50 parishes, 22 missions and more than 44,000 Catholics.
In his statement on Bishop Talley’s appointment, Archbishop Gregory said, “We will sorely miss him in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, even as we thank him sincerely for sharing himself with us over these years, but we will gladly accompany him with our prayers and warmest best wishes as he starts his service to Bishop Ron Herzog and to all of God’s people in the Diocese of Alexandria. May the Lord watch over him and all those entrusted to his pastoral care.”
The archbishop said a farewell reception will be held to honor Bishop Talley’s “long and selfless service to the people in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.” Details will be made public when they are finalized.