LOWELL -- The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has appointed a new auxiliary bishop for the Merrimack Region, replacing on a permanent basis the high-ranking church official who took a leave of absence after an arrest for solicitation of a prostitute last summer.
Bishop Robert Hennessey, currently the auxiliary bishop for the Boston-based central region of the archdiocese, will take over locally on March 9, replacing Interim Episcopal Vicar John Mulloy.
"With confidence in the Lord, I look forward to getting to know the fine parishioners of the Merrimack Region," Hennessey said in a statement.
Mulloy took over the post after Monsignor Arthur Coyle was arrested in August for soliciting a prostitute.
Coyle, who had been the Merrimack Valley's episcopal vicar since 2008, went on voluntary administrative leave and admitted in court that he had been caught with a prostitute in his car behind a Lowell cemetery.
In a statement, Cardinal Sean O'Malley thanked Mulloy for his service in the interim post.
"Father Mulloy has always accepted a call to serve with grace," he said.
Hennessey was ordained as a priest in May 1978 and became Boston's auxiliary bishop in 2006. His previous assignments include pastor of Most Holy Redeemer in East Boston and parochial vicar at St. Joseph in Hanson, St. Peter in Plymouth and St. Joseph in Needham.
O'Malley said in a statement that Hennessey's attention to the needs of parishioners and the broader community will help the archdiocese's efforts to strengthen the church's work.
"The clergy, religious and faithful of the Merrimack Region are blessed that Bishop Hennessey will bring his extensive pastoral experience and leadership skills to the service of their parishes and institutions," O'Malley said. "In particular, the region will benefit from the Bishop's long-standing care and concern for our brothers and sisters who are newly arrived from other countries."
The new leadership structure for the central region has not yet been determined, according to the archdiocese.
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