PORTLAND — Calling himself the new shepherd of Maine’s 193,000 Roman Catholics, the Most Rev. Robert Deeley was installed as the 12th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland on Friday, and called on the community to show compassion to those who are marginalized and to help him bring more priests into the church.

In his homily before about 800 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Deeley urged Catholics to work together to attract more young people into priesthood and strengthen the “parish communities as places of welcome where young people can encounter Jesus,” as the Church struggles to recruit new young leaders.

“We are a Church which draws its life and strength from the Eucharist. We need priests to make that possible,” said Deeley, after being installed in the ceremony led by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston.

As bishop, Deeley will oversee diocese operations, including three hospitals, a dozen schools, 55 parishes and more than 100 priests. He replaces The Most Rev. Richard Malone, who led the diocese since 2004 and was recently tapped to become Bishop of Buffalo, N.Y. Before Deeley was given the pastoral staff Friday, Malone thanked him for taking the reins.

“God’s people in Maine are grateful and so am I,” Malone said.

A Massachusetts native who was ordained to the priesthood in 1973 at Sacred Heart Parish in Watertown, Mass, Deeley has served as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston since January. Prior to that he served as vicar general and moderator of the curia in the archdiocese, a post he held since 2011.

Deeley acknowledged challenges ahead and lamented the “grave failings of some of our number who have been both a cause of shame and humiliation to the many.”

“We will always need to be attentive, in a particular way, to those whose lives have been so hurt by the scandals which have harmed them and the Church,” he said. “We will continue our efforts to support the survivors and all victims of abuse. We will continue to work to see to it that the Church is a safe environment for our children.”

He said that to serve the people of Maine well, he will have to get to know them first or “get to know the smell of the sheep.” That includes getting to know Maine’s beautiful land, he said. Recalling his trip to Maine in December when he was tapped by Pope Francis to become bishop, he detailed his thoughts as he saw the sign on the road as he entered the state that read: “Maine. Worth a visit, Worth a lifetime.”

“Well I guess this isn’t just a visit,” he said. “This must be a lifetime.”



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