Pope Francis Monday morning in Rome accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michael Byrnes of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Agana. Rumors of the archbishop’s illness and impending resignation had been circulating for more than a year.
The Holy Father has appointed current Vicar General, Father Romeo “Romy” Convocar as the Apostolic Administrator of the archdiocese effective immediately. Fr. Romy has been the de facto head of the archdiocese since Archbishop Byrnes’s departure from Guam last year, when he sought medical attention off island.
“First, I thank Archbishop Byrnes for the tremendous courage, faith and obedience he demonstrated seven years ago when he answered the call from the Holy Father to travel many miles away to lead the faithful in a place he knew little about,” Father Romy said tonight. “It took much dedication and faith in God. We have much sadness about his departure but our prayers continue to be with him as he contends with his life-changing illness.”
Archbishop Byrnes replaced disgraced ex-bishop Anthony Apuron on October 31, 2016, inheriting a church in shambles from the Apuron era that still has not fully recovered. The resignation comes in the midst of the adjudication of the first round of settlements from the clergy sex abuse scandal almost a decade after victims began coming forward in droves.
Father Romy indicated that in the next few days, he will be able to provide more information on the health of former Archbishop Byrnes who is being taken care of by close friends and associates in his original home of Detroit, Michigan. “Please, continue to pray fervently for our brother and outgoing leader,” said Father Romy.
“I did not seek the position of Apostolic Administrator but I will continue to do my best in this role until the Pope appoints a permanent successor to former Archbishop Byrnes,” said Father Romy. “In my time as Vicar General, I have been able to help lead the archdiocese because of the assistance and dedication of so many good, strong Catholics; our clergy, religious, Curia members, volunteer council members and the resilient Catholics who continue to practice their faith in our parishes, schools, ministries, homes and families despite very difficult challenges.”
Father Romy said he will communicate further with the Vatican and in the days ahead plans to meet with the clergy, religious and other members of the faith community as well as members of the island media regarding the appointment and the continued challenging work that lies ahead.
Kandit prays for Archbishop Byrnes. May he find health, comfort, and peace. And may the Lord give strength to Fr. Romy and to the Archdiocese of Agana during this time of transition and change.