By Catholic News Service | Published February 2, 2017
WASHINGTON (CNS)—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Ronald P. Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana. Coadjutor Bishop David P. Talley of Alexandria succeeds him.
The changes were announced in Washington Feb. 2 by Archbishop Christopher Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Herzog, 74, had headed the 11,108-square-mile diocese in central Louisiana since 2005. Bishop Talley, 66, was named coadjutor of the diocese by Pope Francis last September.
When he was appointed coadjutor, Bishop Talley was an auxiliary bishop of the Atlanta Archdiocese, where he was vicar general and director of priest personnel. He was ordained a priest of the archdiocese in 1989.
He became the first native-born Georgian to serve as a bishop in the archdiocese. His episcopal motto is “He will give you a new heart.”
As a priest, he served the archdiocese in several capacities, including as director of vocations, tribunal judge, judicial vicar and chancellor. He also served on the Atlanta Archdiocese’s Hispanic ministry board.
When he was director of vocations, the archdiocese initiated a cross-cultural immersion program for seminarians where they spent time living in El Paso, Texas, and in Juarez, Mexico, to learn Spanish and be more knowledgeable about Hispanic culture and more skilled at ministering in a variety of communities.
One of his roles in the Atlanta Archdiocese was as chaplain to the disabilities ministry. He has said that his experience ministering among people with disabilities, which began at his first parish assignment, is key to his spiritual life.
“All they can do is ask the Lord for help. That simplicity and humility is where I think the church should be—humble before God,” he said in an interview in 2013.
Bishop Talley was raised as a Southern Baptist but has said he left the church as a teenager over the issue of racial segregation. At Auburn University, he met Catholics and read the writings of Trappist Father Thomas Merton, which led him to become a Catholic, he said. He was 24 when he joined the church at St. Mary Church in Opelika, Alabama.
Family members remain faithful Baptists, including a brother who is a deacon. That background gives him a broad view, he said. “I do know faith across the spectrum,” he said.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Sept. 11, 1950, he pursued seminary studies at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana, earning a master of divinity degree. He was ordained a priest for the Atlanta Archdiocese June 3, 1989, at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta by Archbishop Eugene A. Marino.
His first assignment was as parochial vicar of St. Jude Parish in Sandy Springs. He was there until 1993, when he began post-graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in canon law in 1998. In 2001, Pope John Paul II named him a monsignor.
He served other parishes as administrator, pastor and parochial vicar. He last assignment before being named an auxiliary bishop was as pastor of St. Brigid Parish in Johns Creek, from 2011 to 2013.
Bishop Talley currently serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and as a member of USCCB’s Committee on National Collections and its Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
Born April 22, 1942, in Akron, Ohio, young Ronald Herzog moved with his parents to Natchez, Mississippi, when he was 11 years old. After studies at St. Joseph Seminary in St. Benedict, Louisiana, and at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, he was ordained a priest June 1, 1968, for the then-Diocese of Natchez-Jackson, now the Diocese of Biloxi.
He held pastoral posts throughout his priesthood, in addition to having many diocesan responsibilities. He also became a chaplain in the Mississippi National Guard, eventually retiring with the rank of brigadier general.
He became part of the new Biloxi Diocese when it was formed in June 1977. When Bishop Herzog was named to head the Diocese of Alexandria, he became the first priest from the Biloxi Diocese to be named a bishop.