BEND, Ore. -

Pope Benedict XVI has named 64-year-old Father Liam Stephen Cary, pastor of St. Mary Church in Eugene, as the new bishop of the Bend-based Diocese of Baker, officials announced Thursday.

The appointment was announced in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-elect Cary succeeds Bishop Robert Vasa, who was named co-adjutor bishop of Santa Rosa, California, in January of last year, and became Bishop of Santa Rosa the following June.

Bishop William Skylstad, retired bishop of Spokane, Washington, has been apostolic administrator of the Baker Diocese since Bishop Vasa was named to Santa Rosa.

Liam Stephen Cary was born August 21, 1947, in Portland, Oregon. He studied for the priesthood at North American College, Rome, and earned a bachelor?s degree and a licentiate in sacred theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon in 1992.

Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, St. Joseph Parish, Salem, Oregon, 1992-1995; archdiocesan vocation director, 1995-1999; pastor, Sacred Heart Parish, 1999-2011; and pastor, St. Mary Church, Eugene, Oregon, 2011-present.

The Baker Diocese includes almost 67,000 square miles in Oregon and has a population of 526,760 people, of whom 34,375, or 7 percent, are Catholic.

"Here's the challenge as bishop," Cary told reporters in Bend Thursday. "It occurs to me that Jesus says, 'I'm the good shepherd, and I know mine, and mine know me.'"

"And I guess that's the challenge, is to come to know the people I'm sent to serve, (and) for them to know me," he said

In a statement of welcome, Skylstad offered "profound joy and gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI"" for the appointment of the seventh bishop for the diocese.

"Bishop-elect Cary is a native of Oregon and spent much of his youth in Prineville, so he is acquainted with our area of the state," Skylstad said.

"He will find vibrant communities of faith in this diocese, even in the more remote, rural parishes, where parishioners live out their faith in remarkable ways."

"As a native of the east side of the Cascades, I rejoice in his appointment as a bishop who has demonstrated strong pastoral skills, hard work and a deep commitment to serving God's people," Skylstad said. "He is fluent in Spanish, a quality so meaningful to our Hispanic brothers and sisters."

In a fact sheet, the diocese noted the diocese was established in 1903 and has 31 parishes with resident priests, who also cover another 28 missions.