Bishop William G. Connare, Second Bishop of Greensburg (1960-87)
On May 4, 1960, Bishop William G. Connare, a Pittsburgh native, was consecrated and installed as the second bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg during ceremonies at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg.
Bishop Connare was spiritual leader of the diocese for more than 27 years, directing it through the changes of the Second Vatican Council and into the latter part of the 1980s.
Early in his tenure, Bishop Connare established The Catholic Accent, which was first published June 1, 1961. The first diocesan synod, from which rules for operation of the diocese were established, was convened under his direction Dec. 11, 1961. In 1962, he implemented a new fundraising effort called Diocesan Expansion Day, an annual appeal to provide funds for diocesan facilities.
Education continued to grow with the 1964 dedications of Geibel Catholic High School, Connellsville (now Geibel Catholic Middle-High School), and the former St. Joseph Hall, a minor seminary that now serves as a retreat center near Greensburg. A care facility for the elderly, which was an early dream of Bishop Hugh L. Lamb, was realized in 1964 when Bishop Connare presided at the dedication of St. Anne Home in Greensburg. He blessed Clelian Heights School, Greensburg, in 1968.
Bishop Connare attended all four sessions of Vatican II. He addressed the council on behalf of the United States bishops on the subject of the divine office and breviary. Shortly before the close of the council, he prepared the diocese for the major changes in the liturgy by reorganizing its liturgical commission and establishing committees to study and facilitate upcoming changes, especially the change of the Mass from Latin to English.
Blessed Sacrament Cathedral was renovated to accommodate the new liturgical requirements of Vatican II, and Bishop Connare acknowledged the cathedral project, which was completed in 1972, as one of the more important accomplishments of his tenure.
In September 1975, Bishop Connare was one of eight bishops and cardinals invited to Rome to concelebrate a canonization Mass for Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton with Pope Paul VI. In April 1980, Bishop Connare returned safely to the diocese after a perilous experience at the funeral of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador where 40 people were killed during a violent outbreak at the Mass.
An estimated 10,000 people attended Bishop Connare Day at Idlewild Park (now Idlewild & Soakzone), Ligonier, Sept. 1, 1985, to close the celebration of his 25 years as bishop of Greensburg.
His resignation was accepted by Pope John Paul II Jan. 20, 1987, and he was named apostolic administrator of the diocese until the installation of Bishop Anthony G. Bosco June 30, 1987.
Bishop Connare was born on Dec. 11, 1911, in Pittsburgh’s East End. He graduated from Duquesne University Preparatory School and Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. He attended Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, and was ordained June 14, 1936, by Bishop Hugh C. Boyle of Pittsburgh at Saint Vincent Basilica, Latrobe.
During his early years as a priest, Bishop Connare held a variety of posts, including diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, chaplain of the Catholic Interracial Council of Pittsburgh and vicar for religious. He was also a member of the Community Services Committee of the Urban League of Pittsburgh and the Commission on Human Relations.
He died June 12, 1995, at the age of 83.