WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pope Francis has named Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota, to head the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan.

Gruss, 63, has headed the Rapid City Diocese since 2011. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him May 26, 2011, and his episcopal ordination was July 28, 2011.

In Saginaw, he succeeds the late Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, who died unexpectedly Oct. 16, 2018, at age 69. Retired Bishop Walter A. Hurley of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been apostolic administrator of the diocese since Oct. 17, 2018.

The appointment was announced May 24 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States.

His installation as the seventh bishop of Saginaw is scheduled for July 26.

Robert Dwayne Gruss was born June 25, 1955, in Texarkana, Arkansas. He attended Madison Area Technical College, in Madison, Wisconsin, and Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was a commercial pilot and flight instructor from 1980 to 1989 before entering seminary.

He pursued seminary studies at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, from 1989 to 1990, then studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, 1990-1994. He earned a master of arts degree in spiritual theology in 1994 at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum, in Rome.

In 1999, he completed studies at the Institute of Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska, with an emphasis on spiritual direction training.

He was ordained to the priesthood July 2, 1994, by Bishop William E. Franklin of Davenport. In 2007, Benedict named him a monsignor. The pope named him bishop of Rapid City in 2011. He was ordained a bishop July 28, 2011.

Gruss’s previous assignments have included chancellor and diocesan vocations director for the Diocese of Davenport, as well as pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He also served as vice rector at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

The Saginaw Diocese covers almost 7,000 square miles and includes Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Sanilac, Saginaw and Tuscola counties. Out of a total population of close to 709,000, about 153,000, or nearly 13 percent, are Catholic.

In 1938, Saginaw’s first bishop, Bishop William Murphy, dedicated the entire diocese under the patroness of Mary of the Assumption.


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