Following the Vatican’s announcement of His Holiness Pope Francis’ appointment of the Most Reverend David P. Talley as the sixth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, the Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D., archbishop of the Archdiocese of Louisville and apostolic administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, introduced Bishop Talley as bishop-elect for the diocese to the clergy, faithful and public at a press conference at the Catholic Center on Tuesday, March 5.
The Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, D.D., Bishop of Nashville, and the Most Reverend J. Terry Steib, S.V.D., Bishop emeritus of Memphis, attended the press conference.
“I am happy to be here with all of you and to be a part of you,” Bishop Talley said. “I know west Tennessee has a long-standing culture, and I want to know the culture of Memphis. I am here to listen and hear from our Catholic family and ask their opinion. God allows us to develop relationships and those relationships begin today.”
Bishop Talley is the current Bishop of Alexandria in Louisiana, a position he has held for two years. Prior to his service in Alexandria, he served in various roles for the Archdiocese of Atlanta over a 23-year period, including, parochial vicar, administrator and pastor of a number of parishes. In 2013, he was ordained to the episcopacy as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Originally Southern Baptist, Bishop Talley converted to Catholicism when he was 24. He says he has a special admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Since I was a Baptist boy, Dr. King has been my mentor,” Bishop Talley said. “He took the Gospel to the streets. I admired that and his fight for justice.”
Bishop Talley has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, Italy.
Additionally, he is fluent in Spanish, which he learned when he was director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Atlanta through a cross-cultural immersion program.
Bishop Talley says his experience ministering among people with disabilities is key to his spiritual life.
“I am delighted by the news and welcome him,” Bishop emeritus Steib said. “Bishop Talley brings with him much experience as a pastor, administrator, auxiliary bishop and bishop. This shows he has the pastoral qualities to be a good shepherd and Good Samaritan for our diocese, which spreads from the Mississippi River to the Tennessee River.”
The Rev. Robert Szczechura, pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Bartlett, Tenn., who was in attendance at the press conference, agrees.
“I am excited and hopeful that Bishop Talley will bring the peace, healing and stability that we need at this moment,” said Father Szczechura.
Bishop Talley will move to the Memphis area to begin his new role in three weeks. He says he is looking forward to serving the Catholic faithful in west Tennessee.
“I hope that I might serve as an instrument of healing and renewal,” Bishop Talley said. “The Holy Father made the decision after consulting with His consulters and it’s humbling. I have an open heart for Memphis, and I hope that hearts will gather to hear the proclamation of Jesus as Lord. I am hopeful that I can live out my vocation as Christ’s servant and shepherd in Memphis.”
Bishop Talley will be installed as the sixth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis on April 2, 2019. The time and place of the ceremony will be announced in the near future.