Rio Grande diocese elects Michael Louis Vono as ninth bishop

April 24, 2010

The Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Vono was elected April 24 as ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.

Vono, 61, rector of St. Paul's Within the Walls, Rome, Italy, was elected on the third ballot out of a field of six nominees. He received 150 votes of 189 cast in the lay order and 69 of 86 cast in the clergy order. An election on that ballot required 106 in the lay order and 64 in the clergy order.

The election was held in the context of worship during a special election convention at the Cathedral of St. John in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Vono will succeed Jeffrey Steenson, who announced in September 2007 that he was leaving the Episcopal Church to join the Roman Catholic Church. The Rt. Rev. William C. Frey, retired bishop of the Diocese of Colorado, has been serving Rio Grande as assisting bishop.

Vono has been rector of St. Paul's Within the Walls since 1992. During his tenure there, he also served for six years – three as president – on the council of advice to the bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe and has been active in ecumenical and interfaith work. He was for 12 years president of the Anglo-American Medical Assistance Fund of Rome.

Previously he served in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts as rector of Christ Church, Rochdale, and curate at All Saints Church, Worcester. For the diocese, he was a congregational development consultant; a leader in ecumenical and interfaith work, including organizing a major social services outreach program; chair of the diocesan stewardship committee; and dean of the Central and West Worcester Deanery.

He has taught at Catholic University of America, St. John's College High School and Agnes Greg School, all in Washington, D.C. He is the author of numerous articles for various publications, including The Living Church, Paulus magazine and Anglican-Episcopal World.

Vono was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on September 15, 1948. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Warwick, Rhode Island; a master of arts degree in religious and theological studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; a certificate in Anglican Studies from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria; and a doctor of ministry degree from Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. He was ordained to the diaconate in June 1976 and to the priesthood in February 1977.

The consecration of the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande is expected to take place Oct. 22 during the diocesan convention in Albuquerque, pending consent from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the 109 dioceses of the Episcopal Church. The bishop will be seated at the Cathedral of St. John the following Sunday.

The other nominees were:

Information about all the nominees is available here.

The Diocese of the Rio Grande is composed of some 13,000 baptized communicants in 56 congregations. It covers the entire state of New Mexico and that part of Texas west of the Pecos River, an area of 154,000 square miles.