BISHOP LAWRENCE E. BRANDT
Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt was installed as the Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg March, 4, 2004, at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg.
Bishop Brandt led the Diocese for 11 years, during which time he instituted many initiatives to further incorporate the needs and wants of the laity into the structure of the Diocese and its parishes.
Early in his term, Bishop Brandt promulgated a Prayer for Vocations, and established three vocation prayer chapels — in Latrobe, Indiana and Uniontown — to help raise awareness for prayer to help increase vocations. He also established a full-time Office for Clergy Vocations, and an Office for the Permanent Diaconate.
Bishop Brandt established the Diocesan Lenten Appeal, a giving initiative, in his first year as Bishop. Through this program, the Diocese is able to educate seminarians and care for retired priests, support the work of Catholic Charities, support evangelization and faith formation efforts, provide lay ministry formation and catechetical training, coordinate youth ministry and support Catholic schools. During his tenure, the appeal collected over $47 million.
In 2005, Bishop Brandt started a strategic planning process to hear the opinions and concerns of the laity on church matters. He instituted listening sessions in Lent 2006, in every region of the Diocese. These sessions guided change and consolidation plans in 2008 and 2013, and also led to the establishment of the Offices for Evangelization and Faith Formation, as well as Development.
In 2009, the Capital Campaign, Today Challenge ~ Tomorrow’s Hope, was launched. Despite taking place during the “Great Recession” of the United States, the campaign received overwhelming support, totaling $55 million in pledges and exceeding the original $45 million goal.
That same year, Bishop Brandt presented his Pastoral Letter called “The Transmission of Faith in the Present Culture,” which included changing the age for receiving confirmation to eighth grade and establishing a certification program for catechists.
In looking out for the poorer communities of the Diocese, Bishop Brandt established the Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund in 2010. All money contributed to this fund goes directly to the aid of the poor and needy in the Diocese. This program had directed more than $228,000 in assistance to people in need in the Diocese’s four counties.
To promote and assist evangelization, Bishop Brandt approved diocesan sponsorship of We Are One Body radio — WAOB-FM 106.7, WAOB 860 AM and WPGR 1510 AM. The stations began broadcasting Catholic teaching programming in 2010.
Bishop Brandt’s early call to vocations proved successful. He ordained the Diocese’s first two permanent deacons in 2009, and four more in 2015. In 2010, he invited the first two Filipino priests to serve in the Diocese, and also ordained eight men to the priesthood during his tenure.
On March 10, 2011, the 60th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Diocese, Bishop Brandt instituted a decree to implement the Bishop’s Medal of Honor, recognizing meritorious service to one’s parish and the Diocese.
In 2013, he added a higher rank to the honor, The Rank of Golden Merit, for people who have distinguished themselves by particularly significant good works, which have had an especially effective breadth of outreach.
Bishop Brandt celebrated his 10th anniversary with the Diocese in 2014. That same year, he established the Bishop’s Tuition Transfer Grants program, which helped the Diocese receive a $100,000 marketing grant to help increase Catholic schools enrollment.
He created the Diocesan Heritage Center on the grounds of the Bishop Connare Center in Greensburg. The center was established to collect, preserve, and display items constituting the artistic and cultural patrimony of the Diocese, and to provide additional space for the diocesan archives.
During his time with the Diocese, Bishop Brandt continued to show vigilance in the protection of children and young people. He updated and combined the “Minor Protection Policy” and the “Policy of the Diocese of Greensburg for Clergy Sexual Misconduct” to create the “Code of Pastoral Conduct,” which is a companion to the guidelines of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
Bishop Brandt was born March 27, 1939, in Charleston, W.Va. His family relocated to Lake City, near Erie, when he was young. He attended St. John the Evangelist School in Girard, Pa., and then enrolled at the Pontifical College, Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio, for high school and undergraduate education.
He enrolled in the University of Inssbruck, Austria, where he earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1966. He entered the seminary at the North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, for theological studies. He also earned a doctorate in canon law at Lateran University, Rome, in 1983, and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, and at the University of Florence, Italy. He was also a graduate of the Holy See’s Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, a school for Vatican diplomats. He served in diplomatic positions in Madagascar, Germany, Ecuador, and Algeria.
Bishop Brandt was ordained to the priesthood December 19, 1969, at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. He was 30 years old. In 1974, he was named Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor by then Pope Paul VI. In 1984, he was named the vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Erie, and then named Chancellor and member of the diocesan administrative cabinet in 1991.
From 1985 to 1998, he served as the Assistant Chancellor and resident chaplain of Gannondale Residential Center for Girls, a private residential rehabilitation center for girls who are victims of violence or abuse, in Erie. Following that assignment, he was appointed a parish priest at St. Hedwig, a working-class parish in one of Erie’s poorest neighborhoods. He had also served at Christ the King Parish in Dunbar, W. Va., and Sacred Heart Parish in his native Charleston, prior to becoming a bishop.
Bishop Brandt submitted his retirement to Pope Francis on his 75th birthday.
He announced his successor, Bishop Edward C. Malesic of the Diocese of Harrisburg, during a diocesan press conference April 24, 2015, at Christ our Shepherd Center.