The Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham announced in a statement that it has been assigned a new Bishop. Bishop Steven J. Raica was appointed as the Fifth Bishop of Birmingham by Pope Francis on Wednesday.
Bishop Raica is currently the Bishop of Gaylord, Michigan.
Bishop Robert J. Baker had reached the mandatory retirement age for bishops and has been awaiting the appointment of his replacement for months now. Baker has served as Bishop of the Birmingham Diocese since October 2007. Baker is now officially retired and will be bishop emeritus. The Vatican has appointed Baker to serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese until Raica’s installation.
Baker has issued a statement welcoming the new bishop and promising his “support, prayer, and collaboration to the new Bishop.”
Bishop Raica was born on November 8 1952 in Munsing, Michigan. His parents were Mary and the late Steve Raica. The Bishop has a younger brother Joseph who lives near their hometown with their 93 year old mother.
Raica has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Michigan State University, a master of divinity from St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, MI, and a master of arts in religious studies from the University of Detroit.
Raica was ordained a priest on October 14, 1978 in the Diocese of Lansing. He served as the Parochial Vicar for Holy Redeemer Parish in Burton, MI and at St. Pius X Parish in Flint, MI where he served until 1984. He was the pastor of Holy Family Parish in Ovid, MI for a year. He became co-rector of St Mary Cathedral in Lansing and Chaplain of Olivet College.
In 1988, Raica began studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he earned a licentiate and a doctorate in canon law. In 1991 he returned to Michigan to serve as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Charlotte. In 1995 Raica was the pastor of St. Ann Parish in Bellevue, MI. From 1997 to 1999 he served as Chancellor of the Diocese of Lansing. During his tenure there, Pope John Paul II named him as an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor
In 1999 Racia began a six year term as Superior of Casa Santa Maria in Rome. This is the graduate studies house of the Pontifical North American College (PNAC). During his tenure in Rome, Raica also served as a spiritual director and adjunct faculty member atI PNAC.
In 2005 he returned to Lansing and resumed his role as Diocesan Chancellor. Pope Francis appointed Raica as the fifth Bishop of Gaylord on June 17, 2014.
While with the Diocese of Lansing, Raica served the Diocesan Tribunal as: the Promoter of Justice, a tribunal judge, and as a pro-synodal judge. Raica served on several boards.
Raica is fluent in American sign language and can speak Italian and Polish and read Spanish, French, Latin, and German.
His installation is scheduled for Tuesday June 23 at Birmingham’s historic Cathedral of St. Paul’s. The Diocese will publish more information about the installation events in coming days.
Catholic services throughout Alabama have been suspended since Tuesday, March 17 due to fears of spreading the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has locked down the city, banned any gathering of ten or more, and ordered all of the citizenry of Alabama’s largest city to shelter in place until further notice.
The state of Alabama is divided into two Catholic dioceses: Birmingham and Mobile.