PLATTSBURGH — In 2010, the Rev. Terry LaValley, then administrator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, was pleasantly surprised when he received the news he would be the next bishop.
The news so astonishing that all he could utter was a single “Huh?”
Four years later the Most Rev. Bishop LaValley is hard at work serving the community and communicating with people throughout the North Country.
On Wednesday, LaValley spoke to a crowd of more than 50 members of the Rotary Club of Plattsburgh at their weekly meeting in the American Legion building on Quarry Road.
The theme of his address was “the changing church,” which LaValley began to notice when he was ordained and installed as the 14th bishop of Ogdensburg on April 30, 2010.
“I had always thought that bishops came from the administration or from academia,” LaValley said.
But he learned this was not the case when he caught wind of the extensive process that lead to his selection.
The roughly 100,000 church-goers — from more than 100 parishes — in the Ogdensburg Diocese were asked to complete surveys pertaining to whom the new bishop should be. In addition, numerous personal letters of recommendation were sent to the Arch Diocese urging LaValley’s selection.
“That for me was a sign of change, something different here ... consultation,” LaValley said.
In 2009, Robert Joseph Cunningham, the previous bishop, was transferred to Syracuse. The two prior bishops, Gerald Michael Barbarito and Paul Steven Loverde, were relocated to Palm Beach, Fla., and Arlington, Va., respectively.
Having lost their previous three bishops, the people of the diocese realized a need for a leader with strong roots in the community.
LaValley, who grew up in the North Country, served six years in the Navy and served a pastoral role in the church for more than 20 years, seemed a perfect candidate.