LOCAL Catholics will soon have a new bishop at the helm after an announcement from Pope Francis in Rome. Serving Bishop of Armidale Michael Kennedy has been appointed the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, stepping into the role following the death of Bishop Bill Wright in November 2021. "I have been delighted to live and minister as Bishop within the New England and North-West regions of NSW in the Diocese of Armidale for the past 11 years," Bishop Kennedy said. "I have enjoyed travelling around the Diocese, meeting so many people and seeing the wonderful things occurring in the parishes. "I will miss the people and the area and will hold the Diocese in a special place in my heart for the rest of my life." The Pope made the announcement of his successor about 10pm Australian time on Thursday. "I willingly and heartily accept this new appointment, knowing that like all new endeavours, it will hold both joys and challenges," Bishop Kennedy said. "To be the chief pastor leading a diocese in worship, teaching, evangelisation, and governance is an awesome privilege and responsibility.' "I am now looking forward to meeting and getting to know the priests and the people of the Diocese of Maitland- Newcastle." Born in Wagga Wagga, Bishop Kennedy taught for several years at Albury's Xavier Catholic College before undertaking seminary studies at Vianney College. In 1994, he attained a Licentiate in Sacred Theology and Diploma in Mariology in Rome. Ordained in 1999, he has been Bishop of Armidale since 2011.