The following is from a July 21 Whispers in the Loggia blog post by Rocco Palmo:

For some years now, Fr Robert Barron’s champions have lionized the Chicago-based New Evangelization guru as this age’s answer to Fulton Sheen.

Suffice it to say, the prophecy’s panned out.

In a stunning move, at Roman Noon this Tuesday, the Pope named the 55 year-old rector/president of the Windy City’s Mundelein Seminary as one of three auxiliary bishops for the nation’s largest local church — the 5 million-member archdiocese of Los Angeles — alongside two of its most well-regarded mainstays: Monsignor Joseph Brennan, 61, the career pastor turned lead vicar-general to Archbishop José Gomez, and the Irish-born Monsignor David O’Connell, 61, whose decades of ministry in LA’s violence-torn South Central corridor arguably comprise the Stateside bench’s most potent example yet of the “peripheries” Francis insistently wants present at the church’s center.

While each bishop-elect brings a compelling story, to use one op’s term, the appointment of Barron is likely to “suck the air out of the room” far beyond the three-county SoCal juggernaut, now the largest diocese in American Catholicism’s five centuries of existence. A protege of the late Cardinal Francis George (whose own successor in Chicago some leading prelates hoped Barron would be), the nominee’s Word on Fire ministry of films, widely circulated, conservative-leaning columns and YouTube commentaries have made him a household name in church circles as well as one of the US fold’s most popular speakers, and now, the highest-profile Stateside priest to enter the episcopacy since one Timothy Michael Dolan became an auxiliary of his native St Louis in 2001 after seven years of taking Rome by storm as rector of the Pontifical North American College.

Along these lines, Barron is one of the few incoming US bishops who’s already appeared before his new confreres as a speaker, having served as spiritual director for the bench’s 2013 summer retreat. Yet even as the calculus behind his Western move remains a mystery, its seismic impact on two of the nation’s three largest dioceses is immediate: in LA, the bishop-elect heads to the most influential seat of pop culture on earth, his “rock star” talents for communication (and, indeed, fund-raising) on-hand to shore up a sometimes restive Anglo minority in the trenches, while in the 2.3 million-member Chicago church, the leadership of Mundelein – long regarded as the “crown jewel” of American seminaries, currently the US’ third-largest formation house – now falls vacant for Archbishop Blase Cupich to fill just nine months into his tenure, a pick with implications across the Midwest.

All that said, now comes the interesting part. With Brennan likely to remain at the helm of the Chancery – which was recently reconfigured into nine core departments reporting to him – Barron and O’Connell are expected to take up duties as regional bishops each overseeing one of the LA behemoth’s five pastoral areas. On their own, four of the regions have at least a million Catholics – a figure which would place each region among the US church’s 15 largest outposts – and given the massive scope of the larger local fold, the regions essentially function as five mini-dioceses. How that ministry will mesh with Barron’s wider purview remains to be seen, but in a statement released this morning by Word on Fire, the bishop-elect said “the short answer is that” his media work “will certainly continue” as the apostolate’s staff “will keep bringing you my regular articles, sermons, videos, and media resources.”

On the local front, meanwhile, it might seem unusual for a diocese that’s now no less than 70 percent Hispanic to receive three Anglo appointees, and as the first round chosen by a Mexican-born archbishop at that. Beyond further evidence of a pressing national demand for Latino candidates that far outstrips its supply, however, the nods for Brennan and O’Connell – both fluent in Spanish and with broad experience in Hispanic communities – manifest the almost unique degree to which LA’s Anglo clergy has proven fully effective at ministering to what’s become the archdiocese’s ethnic supermajority, the lead force behind its doubling in size over the last 25 years.

Said effectiveness is especially apparent in O’Connell’s case. Having done double duty in South Central pastoring an African-American parish alongside a Hispanic one, the Irish emigré has won wide acclaim for his work on fronts ranging from immigration to unemployment and South LA’s notorious history of gang violence. Hailed as an exemplar of the priesthood in a 2002 LATimes profile as the clergy sex-abuse crisis made national headlines, the candid cleric likewise made a wave of a different sort in the piece with an indirectly cited statement that “women should be ordained and clergy should be able to marry.”

“If there had been some parents in there running things,” O’Connell said then in reference to abuse and its cover-up, “none of this would have ever happened.”