By Jim Fair

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert J. Baker, 75, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Birmingham and has named Bishop Steven J. Raica of Gaylord to succeed him.

Bishop Steven J. Raica

Bishop Steven John Raica was born on November 8, 1952, in Munising, in the diocese of Marquette, Michigan. After attending the Sacred Heart Elementary School and William G. Mather High School, he received his Baccalaureate in mathematics from Michigan State University in East Lansing (1973). He completed his theological studies at Saint John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth (1973-1977). He then obtained a Master of Arts in religious studies at the University of Detroit (1978) and a licentiate (1990) and doctorate (1996) in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Lansing on October 14, 1978.

Since priestly ordination, he has held the following offices: parish vicar of the Holy Redeemer Parish in Burton (1978-1979) and Saint Pius X Parish in Flint (1979-1984); diocesan director of pastoral care for the deaf-mute (1978-1985); parish priest of the Holy Family Parish in Ovid (1984-1985); co-rector of Saint Mary Cathedral in Lansing (1985-1988); parish priest of the Saint Mary Parish in Charlotte (1991-1993); judge of the diocesan tribunal (1991-1993, 1997-1999); diocesan consultor (1992-1993 and since 2006); member of the presbyteral council (1992-1993, 1995-1997 and since 2005); parish priest of the Saint Ann Parish in Bellevue and chaplain of Olivet College in Olivet (1995-1997); member of the presbyteral council (1996-1999 and since 2005); vicar general (1997-1998); chancellor (1997-1999 and 2005-2014); and superior of the Holy Mary House in Rome (1999-2005).

On March 3, 1998, he was named Prelate of Honour of His Holiness.

Appointed Bishop of Gaylord on June 27, 2014, he received episcopal consecration the following 28 August.

Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops he was a member of the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs.

The Diocese of Birmingham is comprised of 28,091 square miles in the State of Alabama and has a total population of 3,073,473 of which 104,837 are Catholic.

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