Wilmington is getting a new Roman Catholic Bishop.
Pope Francis has appointed a New York monsignor to succeed current Bishop W. Francis Malooly, who followed church tradition by offering his resignation in 2019 when he turned 75.
Monsignor William Edward Koenig, vicar for clergy at the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, will become the 10th Bishop of Wilmington when he is ordained in a special Mass July 13 at Saint Elizabeth Church in Wilmington.
Malooly introduced Koenig in a news conference at Wilmington’s Cathedral of Saint Peter.
“He clearly is a compassionate, kind and pastoral priest, a thoughtful, intelligent and decisive leader,” Malooly said. “He has the heart and soul of a shepherd who will guide and protect his flock.”
Malooly and Koenig will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at the cathedral at 12:10 p.m., which will be livestreamed on the diocesan YouTube channel.
Koenig (pronounced KAY-nig) joked that when he got a phone call telling him that he’d been appointed bishop, he thought the caller had the wrong number.
He said he has not formulated any plans for the diocese, describing the last week as a whirlwind, and said he’s just getting to know “this vibrant, grace-filled diocese of Wilmington.”
Koenig will take over a diocese that claims President Joe Biden as a member. Biden, the country’s second Catholic president, worships in Wilmington and Washington, D.C., where he takes communion. Bishops in other areas have said Biden should not be allowed to take communion because he supports allowing abortion.
Asked how he felt about that, Koenig said he has not met Biden, but prays for him every day, and the he would be open to a conversation, but he also expects to teach the “fullness” of the faith.
While Malooly moved from Baltimore and was familiar with the area, Koenig joked that he’s stopped at the state’s rest areas several times when he was on the road, and that the rest areas are nice. His family had a place on the Delaware River, he said.
On a personal level, Koenig said he enjoyed gathering with friends, including fellow priests who were at seminary at the same time. He’s a New York Mets fan and likes to stay active. He played soccer and baseball in high school and then coached soccer and baseball in college for extra month.
Koenig was born in Queens Aug. 17, 1956, and grew up in East Meadow, New York. He attended St. Raphael’s Elementary School, St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary in Uniondale, New York, Cathedral College in Douglaston, New York and the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. After ordination in 1983, he also attended Fordham University from which he received a master’s in social work.
He has spent his career in New York. After ordination, he served two New York parishes before named diocesan director of vocations at the Cathedral Residence of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, New York. There, he assisted the staff of four other priests in helping to form seminarians from the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre for the Priesthood. In 1990, he also was assigned to be diocesan director of Ministry to Priests.
Koenig then served from 1996 to 2000 as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, New York. In 2000, he was appointed pastor of St. William the Abbot in Seaford, New York, where he served until 2009. Koenig in 2007 was named chaplain to his holiness by Pope Benedict XVI. In 2009, he was appointed rector of St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, New York, and then in 2020, vicar for clergy for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
The bishop-elect Koenig has served in many other roles and on many boards of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, including being a member of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council, the College of, a representative to the Priests Council of New York State, moderator of CYO of Long Island and board member of Unitas, an investment corporation for parishes and diocesan entities.
Koenig will preside over a diocese established in 1868 that includes 56 parishes, 18 missions and 27 schools serving Delaware and nine counties of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. With more than 240,000 Catholics in the diocese, the faith is considered the largest in Delaware.
Malooly has served since 2008, leading the diocese through bankruptcy and a settlement to end lawsuits over priest sexual abuse. The diocese in which Koenig serves in New York also declared bankruptcy last year because of priest abuse lawsuits.
“I have been waiting for this event for two years, three months and 12 days,” Malooly said during the press conference, “and it has been well worth the wait.”
Malooly said he had loved his 12 years as bishop in Wilmington and intends to stay in the diocese to be of help to Koenig.
“This is a very special moment of transition for me, and I think most of you know I am very pleased with what our Holy Father has done for us,” Malooley said.
The new bishop’s installation, a ceremony filled with centuries of pomp and circumstance, will be a religious spectacle. The diocese has established a webpage that will detail plans and keep the public informed.