Washington D.C., Nov 28, 2016 / 07:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Gregory John Mansour, a Maronite bishop with experience in Middle East issues, will be the next chairman of Catholic Relief Services, the foreign aid arm of the U.S. bishops.

“It is my honor and privilege to be appointed as chairman of the CRS board of directors,” Bishop Mansour said Nov. 22. “As a member of the CRS board, I've witnessed CRS’ tremendous work among the most vulnerable. I have seen firsthand the suffering of Christians and others violently forced from their homes in the Middle East. Witnessing their plight was difficult, but it is heartening to see the compassionate work that CRS continues to do in the midst of chaos.” 

Since 2004, Bishop Mansour has headed the Maronite Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn. He is currently on the relief agency’s board. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the new president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, named Bishop Mansour to his position at CRS.

“We are grateful for Bishop Mansour in accepting the appointment of chairman of the board of CRS and in overseeing the important work they do throughout the globe to bring aid and hope to so many,” Cardinal DiNardo said. He praised the bishop’s long service for CRS and his “pastoral concern” for the agency’s humanitarian efforts in the Middle East and on behalf of Middle East Christians, the U.S. bishops’ conference said.

Dr. Carolyn Woo, President of Catholic Relief Services, welcomed the appointment. “It will be an honor to work with Bishop Mansour in his new capacity as chairman of the board as we continue to build upon past successes in serving the poor and the marginalized throughout the world,” she said.

CRS was founded by the U.S. bishops in 1943. It aids 130 million people in over 90 countries and territories around the world.

Bishop Mansour was born in Flint, Michigan to a family with ancestral roots in Lebanon, the Syrian capital of Damascus, and the city of Nazareth in present-day Israel. He is part of the Maronite Catholic Church, a large Lebanon-based Eastern Catholic Church with over 3.3 million members worldwide. He received a bachelor’s degree in health education from Western Michigan University in 1977 and studied at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington, D.C., his eparchy’s  website said. He has received a postgraduate degree in theological studies from the Catholic University of America and a Degree in Spiritual Theology after studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

From 1998 to 2001 he pursued graduate studies in the University of California-Los Angeles’ Near Eastern Languages Program, with an emphasis on Islamic Studies. The bishop is on the boards of Aid to the Church in Need, Caritas Lebanon, and the Lebanon-based Christian television broadcaster Telelumiere/Noursat. He is on the board of trustees of the Catholic University of America. He is also involved with the group In Defense of Christians, which supports and advocates for Christians of the Middle East.

Other roles for Bishop Mansour have included time on the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee and the catechesis and evangelization committees. Bishop Mansour’s eparchy includes 16 eastern U.S. states and the District of Columbia, with 45 churches, a seminary, a monastery, and a convent.

Cardinal DiNardo thanked the outgoing CRS board chairman, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, for his “tireless work” over his three-year term. “His leadership, most particularly in those areas of assistance to those in regions of conflict and poverty, is deeply appreciated.” Archbishop Coakley will remain on the CRS board.

The U.S. bishops at their fall general assembly elected two new board members: Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of Pensacola-Tallahassee and Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee. Departing members of the board are Bishop William P. Callahan of La Crosse and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice in Florida, who are stepping down after finishing their three-year terms at the end of the year.