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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) — From priest to pastor to bishop… Erik Pohlmeier is officially serving Catholics in North Central Florida.
After his installation as bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, hundreds of people gathered for his first mass at the Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville.
“I will have the opportunity to greet people and learn a little more about them. It’s not just this parish, it’s the whole area around Gainesville, so there are churches in Gainesville, but also in the smaller towns in the westernmost part of the state, all of which will be here as well »,
Florida is divided into seven different dioceses, and the Diocese of St. Augustine covers 17 Florida counties, serving over 150,000 Catholics.
Many residents said they were delighted to welcome Bishop Pohlmeier to the community.
“He’s young and lively, we loved Bishop Estevez, but this guy is from a new place and his focus is on God’s family,” Williston resident Mary Hardy said.
Before being named by the Pope in May, Pohlmeier spent 24 years as a pastor in the Diocese of Little Rock in Arkansas.
“There’s a whole range of emotions, there was a lot of excitement and then a sadness of leaving behind people I’ve known all my life,” Pohlmeier said.
He said he can’t wait to find out what life is like as a Catholic in Florida.
“Everything I see gives me great joy and shows me that this work of God has been going on for a long time here, so I am happy to be a part of it, to continue to build and plant new seeds so that the work of God can grow in present and future generations,” he said.
Over the next few days, Pohlmeier will continue to visit several other Catholic churches in his new home.
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