The Vatican announced Friday that Pope Francis has tapped Slovakian-born Bishop Milan Lach S.J. as the new head of the Ruthenian Eparchy of Parma, which encompasses a large portion of the Midwest region of the United States.

Born in Kezmarok, Slovakia in 1973, Lach, 44, has been the apostolic administrator for the vacant eparchy since 2017.

His appointment as the eparchy's new bishop was announced in a June 1 communique from the Vatican. The news was published stateside in Washington D.C. by the pope's ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre.  

Headquartered in Parma, Ohio, the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma governs the majority of Ruthenian Catholics throughout the Midwest. The eparchy encompasses the majority of Ohio, apart from certain eastern border counties, as well as Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The Ruthenian Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church and in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. Ruthenian Catholics use the Byzantine rite and are led by the Ruthenian Archbishop of Pittsburgh.

Bishop Lach was admitted to the Greek-Catholic seminary in Presov, Slovakia in 1992, and three years later he entered the novitiate with the Society of Jesus in Trnava.

After finishing his theological studies at the University of Trnava, Lach was ordained a deacon for the Society of Jesus in 2000, and was ordained priest for the order in the Diocese of Kosice in 2001.

That same year he began working in the scientific area of the Center of Spirituality East-West of Michal Lacko in Kosice. In 2009, he was tapped as the center's superior, a role he held until 2011.

Lach also obtained both a master's degree and a doctorate from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, completing his studies in 2009.

In 2011 the bishop was named vice dean of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Trnava for foreign relations and development.

He was named auxiliary bishop of the Archeparchy of Presov of the Byzantines by Pope Francis in June 2013, and in 2017 he was named apostolic administrator of the Parma eparchy when the former bishop, John Michael Kudrick, retired.