Bishop Gainer was appointed Bishop of Harrisburg by his Holiness Pope Francis on January 24, 2014. He was installed as Bishop of Harrisburg on March 19, 2014.
Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer
“From His Fullness Grace Upon Grace” (John 1:16)
Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer, D.D., J.C.L.
Eleventh Bishop of Harrisburg
The Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer was appointed the 11th Bishop of Harrisburg by his Holiness Pope Francis on January 24, 2014. He was installed as Bishop of Harrisburg on March 19, 2014.
Bishop Gainer was born August 24, 1947, in Pottsville, Pa. He was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Allentown on May 19, 1973. Bishop Gainer was consecrated and installed as Bishop of Lexington, Ky. on February 22, 2003.
Bishop Gainer completed his studies at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia in 1973, earning a Master of Divinity degree. He also earned a licentiate degree in Canon Law and a diploma in Latin Letters from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1986.
For much of his priesthood, Bishop Gainer served in parish, campus ministry, marriage and family ministry, and tribunal positions. As Secretary of Catholic Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Allentown, he supervised 14 diocesan offices and the promotion of the works of spiritual renewal and evangelization.
In addition to his responsibilities as the Bishop of Harrisburg, Bishop Gainer also served as President of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the eight Latin and two Eastern dioceses in Pennsylvania.
On the national level, Bishop Gainer has been a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He has served as Chair of Region V of the USCCB as well as having served on the Administrative Committee, the Committee on Priorities and Planning, the Committee on Catholic Education, the Committee for Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. Bishop Gainer has also been a regional representative to the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Bishop Gainer also chaired the Episcopal Advisors Board of Cross Catholic Outreach and the Bishops’ Advisory Board of the Spitzer Center for Visionary Leadership, as well as serving on several other Boards of Directors.
Bishop Gainer’s request for retirement was accepted by Pope Francis on April 25, 2023.
Explanation of the Coat of Arms and Episcopal Motto
The personal arms of Bishop Gainer reflect his life and his heritage. These arms are composed of a red field on which is displayed a silver (white) bar, which is encircled by a golden (yellow) ring. This is the dominant configuration, honoring Saint Catherine of Siena, of the arms of Bishop Gainer’s home, the Diocese of Allentown. Above the bar is a silver pine tree and below the bar are the three silver hills with the golden double-cross member, known as the “Cross of Lorraine.” These eastern European (Baden and Slovak) charges are used to honor Bishop’s heritage.
Bishop Gainer’s motto is, “From His Fullness Grace Upon Grace.” This phrase, taken from Saint John’s Gospel (John 1:16), expresses the profound belief for each Christian that all we ever need, the life of God within, comes to us from the unending source of all goodness, that is, the Lord, for “from His fullness, grace upon grace.”
The device is completed with the external ornaments, including the processional cross placed in back and extending above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a “gallero,” with its six tassels in three rows on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop.
Pottsville, Pennsylvania: August 24, 1947
Parents: Francis F. Gainer, deceased; Anna M. Meko, deceased.
- Attended Mary, Queen of Peace Grade School, Pottsville, Pa. and Nativity BVM High School, graduated 1965
- Attended Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, from September 1965 until June 1973, receiving a B.A. Degree in June 1969, and the Masters of Divinity Degree in June 1973
- Attended the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, from 1984-1986, receiving the Licentiate Degree in Canon Law and a Diploma in Latin Letters in June 1986
- Ordained to the Priesthood for the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., May 19, 1973
- Pastor, Holy Trinity Church, Whitehall, 1986-1999
- Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Allentown, 1986-2003
- Professor of Canon Law at Mary Immaculate Seminary, Northampton, PA, 1990-1992
- Named a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by St. Pope John Paul II, August 20, 1991
- Professor of Canon Law at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, 1993-1999
- Secretary for Catholic Life and Evangelization, Diocese of Allentown, 1999-2003
- Named Second Bishop of Lexington by St. Pope John Paul II, December 2, 2002. The announcement of the appointment was made at the Vatican on December 13, 2002
- Ordained to the Episcopacy by Archbishop of Louisville, Thomas C. Kelly, and Solemnly installed as Bishop of Lexington. February 22, 2003
- Named Eleventh Bishop of Harrisburg by Pope Francis, January 13, 2014. The announcement of the appointment was made at the Vatican on January 24, 2014
- Installed as Eleventh Bishop of Harrisburg, March 19, 2014
- Request for retirement as the Bishop of Harrisburg accepted by Pope Francis, April 25, 2023
- Assistant Pastor: Saint Bernard Church, Easton, Pa., 1973-1975; Saint Catherine of Siena Church, Mt. Penn, Pa., 1979-1980
- Assignments in Campus Ministry (1973-1979): Lafayette College, Easton, Pa.; Kutztown University, Kutztown, Pa.; Albright College, Reading, Pa
- Appointed Secretary to the Diocesan Tribunal: March 1980
- Appointed Judge on the Diocesan Tribunal: March 1983
- Appointed Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., and pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Whitehall, Pa., June 1986
- Pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Whitehall, Pa. from June 1986 until January 19, 1999
- Visiting Professor of Canon Law at Mary Immaculate Seminary, Northampton, Pa., 1986-1987
- Appointed Spiritual Director for diocesan chapter of Beginning Experience for the Separated, Divorced and Widowed: October 1991 to 1999
- Appointed to the Pastoral Theology Faculty as visiting instructor in Canon Law at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, Pa., January, 1994 to June 1999
- Appointed Secretary of Catholic Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Allentown: January 19, 1999. – Member, Council of Priests, Diocese of Allentown
- Member, College of Consultors, Diocese of Allentown
- Member, Priest Personnel Board, Diocese of Allentown
- Boy Scouts of America – 2008 Silver Beaver Award and St. George Medal recipient
Pennsylvania Catholic Conference
Canon Law Society of America
Positions at National Level
- Participation – United States Conference of Catholic (USCCB)
- Region V, Chair (2003-2013)
- Region III, Chair (2014-2015)
Various Board Memberships Include
- Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, OH
- Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corners, Wis.
- Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia
- Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.
- Cross Catholic Outreach, Chair
- Chair, Episcopal Advisory Board and member of the Board of Trustees of the Spitzer Center for Visionary Leadership
- Holy Family Radio
- Paradisus Dei
Past Committee Memberships
- Region V representative to the Bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People
- Moderator for Catholic Campus Ministry Association and liaison with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate
- USCCB Committee for Canonical Affairs and Church Governance
- USCCB Committee on Catholic Education
- USCCB Administrative Committee
- USCCB Committee on Priorities and Plans