Byzantine bishop with Arizona ties named administrator of Canadian eparchy

Bishop Kurt Burnette, pictured before his appointment as bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic in 2013, has been appointed apostolic administrator of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Ss. Cyril and Methodius of Toronto, in addition to his current role. (Courtesy of the Byzantine Eparchy of Passaic)

VATICAN CITY (CAN) — Pope Francis appointed a New Jersey-based bishop — who was ordained a priest for what is now  the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix — as the administrator of a Canadian eparchy Tuesday.

The Holy See press office announced Oct. 20 that the pope had named Bishop Kurt Burnette as the apostolic administrator of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Ss. Cyril and Methodius of Toronto. The 64-year-old prelate will administer the eparchy while continuing to serve as the bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, located in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

The pope made the appointment after accepting the resignation of Bishop Marián Andrej Pacák, who had overseen the eparchy since 2018.

Bishop Pacák, 47, was the third bishop of the eparchy for Byzantine-rite Eastern Catholics of Slovak origin in Canada since it was founded in 1980. The Vatican did not give a reason for the resignation of the bishop, who was born in present-day Slovakia in 1973 and is a member of the Redemptorist order.

Bishop Burnette was enthroned in 2013 as the fifth bishop of the New Jersey eparchy which was established in 1963 and serves an estimated 14,000 Ruthenian Catholics along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.

He was born in Fakenham, a market town in Norfolk, England, in 1955 and grew up in Texas. He attended Rice University, and then received a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Utah. He began a career as a professor in 1978. He was ordained a priest April 26, 1989 for the Byzantine Eparchy of Van Nuys, as it was known before its see was moved to Phoenix.

As a priest, he served 1991-1994, as economos and consultor of the Phoenix eparchy. He also assisted the Dioceses of Phoenix and Gallup by serving on their tribunals. He also served the Diocese of Las Vegas and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in that capacity.

Bishop Burnette received a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome in 2007, and holds doctorates in civil law and mathematics, according to a biography on the website of the New Jersey Catholic Conference.

He was later appointed rector of the Byzantine Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh in 2012, a post he held until his episcopal appointment.

The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Ss. Cyril and Methodius of Toronto is part of the Slovak Greek Catholic Church, one of the 23 autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. But it is immediately subject to the Holy See, rather than being a suffragan see.

The eparchy remained a vacant see between 2016 and 2018 after Pope Francis named Bishop John Stephen Pažak as to lead the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of the Phoenix Eparchy. Bishop remained apostolic administrator of the Canadian eparchy until Bishop Pacák was appointed on July 5, 2018.

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