Meet Bishop Bonnar

That All May Be One

“That All May Be One” is the Episcopal motto of the Most Reverend David J. Bonnar.

The Most Reverend David J. Bonnar was born on February 5, 1962 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the fourth of five children to George and Mary Bernadette (Wilson) Bonnar, both of whom are deceased. He attended Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin School and graduated from Seton-LaSalle High School. He received a bachelor degree in Social Communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome receiving a Bachelor in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1987 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh on July 23, 1988.

After ordination, Bishop Bonnar served as parochial vicar at Saint Vitus Parish, New Castle; Saint Rosalia Parish, Greenfield; and Saint Thomas More Parish, Bethel Park. While at Saint Rosalia Parish, he also served as chaplain at Central Catholic High School. In 1997, he was named Director of Vocations, Director of the Pre-Ordination program, Director of the Permanent Diaconate program and Rector of Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh where he served until 2002. From 2002 to 2007, he served as pastor of Saint Bartholomew Parish in Penn Hills. In 2007, Bishop Bonnar was named Secretary for Parish Life and Leadership. During this time, he also served as Delegate for Clergy (2007) and Episcopal Vicar for Clergy (2007-2009). In 2009, Bishop Bonnar was appointed pastor of Saint Bernard Parish, Mount Lebanon and from 2018 also served as administrator of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Scott Township. In 2020, he was named pastor of Saint Aidan Parish, Wexford. On November 17, 2020, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed him the sixth Bishop of Youngstown. Bishop David J. Bonnar was installed as the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown on January 12, 2021. He succeeded Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. who passed away on June 5, 2020.

In addition to his ministerial assignments, Bishop Bonnar has also served on the Diocese of Pittsburgh Post-Ordination Board, Clergy Personnel Board, Seminary Admissions Board, Chair of the Permanent Diaconate Admissions Board, Chair of the Priestly Formation Board, and Chair of the Priesthood Candidate Admission Board. Since 2014, Bishop Bonnar has been the editor of The Priest magazine and in 2020 was appointed a member of the National Advisory Board for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For 12 years Bishop Bonnar was also chaplain to the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers professional football team.

Shortly after his ordination and installation as Bishop of Youngstown, Bishop Bonnar released a Pastoral Letter, Testify to the Light, offering five priorities for the diocesan Church’s journey together.

Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms

By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese are joined with the arms of his diocese that are seen on the left side of the design. 

The Left Side of the shield is representative of the coat of arms of the Diocese of Youngstown, which is composed on a field of green, a traditional color denoting hope. On this green field is a wavy bar, called a “fess,” to represent the Mahoning River that flows through the See City. Upon the fess are two green arrowheads to honor the Native American peoples that first inhabited the area that is now Youngstown, as well as a cross pommetté. The green cross pommetté is taken from the arms of the Diocese of Cleveland, from which the Diocese of Youngstown was carved in 1943, symbolizing the faith passed on from one community to another and from generation to generation.

The golden dove is in honor of the patron of its cathedral, Saint Columba (whose name is translated as “dove”), and is also taken from the arms of Pope Pius XII, who created the diocese in 1943. The golden anvil symbolizes the industrial landscape that has dominated much of northeastern Ohio.

The Right Side is Bishop Bonnar’s personal coat of arms. The chequy blue and silver fess appears in the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s coat of arms representing his diocese of origin. The seven point blue star recalls the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom Bishop Bonnar entrusts his new pastoral ministry. The pomegranate represents the motto of the Bishop that all the grains of this fruit are united in one body, the mystical body of the Church. The field of gold, the first among the noble metals, symbolizes the first of the virtues – the faith – which makes all believe in the salvation given by the Lord.

PASTORAL LETTERS

TESTIFY TO THE LIGHT

Bishop Bonnar’s first pastoral letter invited us to acknowledge the darkness of the time, challenged us to reclaim the light of our sacramental life, and offered five priorities for our journey into the future together.

PRACTICING FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE

Bishop Bonnar’s second pastoral letter focused on living the virtues together in tough times. Faith, hope, and love are presented as the answer to our present moment, and the path through our challenges and grief.

Watch Bishop Bonnar's Ordination

Bishop Bonnar's Messages

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