MERRILLVILLE — The Most Rev. Bishop Donald Hying is returning to Wisconsin after shepherding the Diocese of Gary for four years.

Hying announced Thursday he will become bishop of the Diocese of Madison.

“I am grateful and energized by this appointment by Pope Francis to serve the Diocese of Madison and to minister to the People of God in south-central and southwestern Wisconsin,” he stated in a prepared news release.

Hying, 55, leaves Northwest Indiana, where he has served as the diocese pastor since arriving in November 2014. He was installed as bishop on Jan. 6, 2015.

He will remain administrator of the Gary Diocese until his departure in late June, said Debbie Bosak, spokeswoman for the Gary Diocese.

She said six officials of the local diocese, four priests appointed by the bishop with authority over common pastoral activities, the Vicar General and the Vicar for the Clergy will name an interim administrator to take over the day-to-day operations until a new bishop is named.

Ultimately Pope Francis will name the next Gary bishop with input from the Apostolic Nuncio for the U.S., who oversees diplomatic relations between the pope and the United States.

She said the process could take anywhere from two months to a couple of years to complete.

“In the four short years I have had the privilege to serve as your bishop it has been a great joy to encounter many of you in my visits to our parishes and schools,” Hying said.

He said when he first learned of his return to Wisconsin, “I felt a particular regret knowing I will no longer share in the continued renewal that is taking place and thinking about all the wonderful people I will miss.”

The Rev. Jeff Burton, of St. Paul Church in Valparaiso, said Hying will be remembered fondly. “He was a great fit," he said. "He came from a blue-collar background.”

Burton said Hying personally tended to the parishioners at Holy Angels Cathedral and St. Monica and Luke Church in Gary and worked with a synod of diocese priests to deal with the closing of less-well-attended parish churches in the Gary Diocese.

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“He helped us come together,” Burton said.

Paul Mullaney, president of Bishop Noll Institute, said Hying and what he brought to the Region will be greatly missed. 

"Immediately upon his arrival in the Diocese of Gary four-plus years ago, Bishop Hying fully immersed himself as an energetic shepherd of the faithful. He has worked humbly and tirelessly, in a very pastoral way, to share — with as many people as he could reach — the good news of God’s unconditional love for all of us and the promise of salvation that gives us great hope," Mullaney said.

"He oversaw the diocese’s first synod, a major undertaking to develop a cohesive plan for our future; he introduced new media methods of communication to the faithful with his daily messaging, relating to young and old alike; and vigorously promoted Catholic education through our diocesan schools and programs, for which we truly are grateful.

"I know he will bring the same excitement and messaging to the faithful of Madison, and we are grateful to him for having brought it to us in Northwest Indiana."

Hying was the fourth bishop of the Gary Diocese, which has parishes in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and portions of Starke counties.

It was first formed under Bishop Andrew Grutka in 1957. He was succeeded by Bishop Norbert Gaughan in 1984. Melczek became bishop in 1992, and Hying in 2014.

Hying will become the fifth bishop of the Madison Diocese, succeeding the late Most Rev. Robert Molino, who served from 2003 until his death Nov. 24.

Hying is a native of West Allis, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, where he attended Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Aloysius grade schools and graduated from Brookfield Central High School. He received a degree at Marquette University, majoring in philosophy, theology and history.

He was ordained a priest in 1989 in Milwaukee. He received a degree in theological studies at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis, Wisconsin, and has undertaken doctorate studies at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.

Hying became an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2011.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.