NEW YORK — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona and appointed Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger as his successor. Monsignor Walter Erbi of the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. announced the decision on Tuesday, October 3.

“We are blessed that the Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed as our seventh Bishop in the Diocese of Tucson, a caring and loving pastor and shepherd for our community,” said Kicanas in a statement.

“He will walk with us, listen to us and stand up for us. His many gifts will provide the pastoral leadership we need. He will be a collaborative worker with diocesan personnel, interfaith leaders and all those with responsibility in this vast diocese of 43,000 square miles,” he said.

Kicanas, age 76, served as vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010.

In an unprecedented move, the bishops chose not to elect Kicanas as president of the conference in 2010, instead electing Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. That was the first time a sitting vice president of the conference had failed to be elected as president.

Kicanas has served in Tucson since 2002. He was installed as coadjutor of the diocese in January 2002 and became the seventh bishop of the diocese in March 2003.

Prior to his time in Arizona, Kicanas served in the Archdiocese of Chicago as rector of Mundelein Seminary and as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese.

His successor, Weisenburger, has been bishop of Salina, Kansas since 2012 and is 56 years old. He was ordained in 1987 as a priest in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He went on to earn a degree in Canon Law from the University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Canada in 1992.

Following his studies, he returned to Oklahoma where he was appointed vice-chancellor and adjutant judicial vicar.

“I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of a shepherd who has  served graciously and generously for many years,” said Weisenburger.

“Bishop Kicanas has served in many national capacities for the Catholic Church and is highly esteemed. Knowing that he will continue to reside in our Diocese is a great comfort for me and a blessing for our people.”

The diocese of Tucson is comprised of nearly two million people, twenty percent of whom are Catholic.

Weisenburger’s installation is set for November 29 at St Augustine Cathedral in Tucson.