GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- 82 Catholic churches in West Michigan celebrated the ordination of their new leader Tuesday. Bishop David Walkowiak became bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids. It's the first time in 70 years a bishop has been ordained in Grand Rapids.
Nearly 900 people -- including 26 archbishops, bishops, and cardinals from across the country -- came to the Cathedral of St. Andrews Tuesday for Walkowiak's ordination and installation.
"I really was carried by the crowd, our praying together, it really was a wonderful experience," said the new bishop after his ordination.
"It was breathtaking," said Michelle Downer, a parishioner at St. Adalbert's Church. Downer is one of the few, lucky Grand Rapids Catholics to see Bishop Walkowiak become the leader of her diocese.
Dave Kraninger is one of dozens from the Diocese of Cleveland who has to say goodbye to the priest from his area.
"We respect him a great deal and we expect him to do great things in Grand Rapids because of that," says Kraninger.
"He's an old-fashioned priest with good morals and he teaches children to be very religious," added Patti Stanley.
They tell Grand Rapids that your new bishop likes to have fun.
"I can say he can be serious at times, but he has a very good dry wit about him," said Kraninger.
"I think a good laugh a day is good for the soul. I really think that's a wonderful blessing if you can laugh everyday. Also if you can give thanks to God everyday," said the bishop.
Bishop Walkowiak also says he loves to learn, and says researching the history of Grand Rapids is near the top of his agenda, as is learning and meeting the challenges of his church.
"There's no wisdom if you don't listen and learn," says the bishop.
"As our new our bishop, one that will be visible with the people, who will be with the poor, because we have a lot of poor in the city of Grand Rapids, one that will be a shepherd for all peoples," said Downer.
Bishop Walkowiak also has 182,000 West Michigan Catholics to meet; no small feat, but he knows each person is a crucial voice in his new diocese.
"I want to build upon the fine work of Bishop Hurley," he said.
Bishop Walkowiak also says he grew up near Lake Erie and loves the Great Lakes.
"Of course there has to be some good golf courses around here so I'll look to be playing some golf," he said.
There is nothing scheduled yet for Bishop Walkowiak to publicly meet parishioners of the Diocese, but in the coming months, he will give Mass at every parish.