By Colleen Rowan

Mark A. Said

CHARLESTON—Mark A. Sadd of Charleston has been elected chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Advisory Council (NAC). Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who also serves on the NAC, is happy that Sadd is serving in this role. “We’re very proud that our West Virginia voice is going to be heard,” Bishop Brennan said. “I think he will be respectful that everyone gets a chance to be heard.” Bishop Brennan went on to commend Sadd for the presentation he gave to the U.S. bishops during their November assembly in Baltimore. The NAC, Bishop Brennan said, is comprised of committed Catholics from around the country. “They take their responsibility very seriously,” he said, noting that the council is mostly lay people. Sadd has been serving on the council since 2019. In his role as chair, he leads the NAC’s Executive Board. “The Holy Spirit has really surprised me with my time on the NAC, including my appointment in the first place,” Sadd said. “I never would have imagined that I would be in a position to address all of the U.S. bishops on behalf of so many.” The U.S. bishops founded the council in 1966 as a new expression of synodality in the church, Sadd said. “The NAC thinks and acts with the faith and doctrine of the church to give our bishops our best consensus advice and insights on how to proceed with their substantial work through the USCCB. It’s important to understand that the advice of the NAC is just that, advice. I have observed that our bishops seriously listen and respond to the NAC’s advice. and input,” Sadd said. The council has 44 members, mostly lay women and men from all around the nation. Serving with them are five bishops, six priests, two deacons, one religious brother, and four religious women and men. “In a nice coincidence,” Sadd said, “I am honored to serve as chair while Bishop Brennan is serving as a NAC member.” As chair, Sadd and five council colleagues plan meetings throughout the year. “We make sure that we take up important and timely issues that the bishops face or want to address in the USCCB’s strategic plan for the church in the United States,” Sadd said. “For example, the bishops now, rightly, are emphasizing the growing unbelief in the truth of the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist as Christ’s unique gift of grace to us. During the last meeting, we addressed the state and future of Catholic elementary and secondary education in the United States. We have weighed in heavily on the disgrace of abuse within the church. One NAC meeting just before I joined the group was devoted entirely to that topic.” In 2019, Sadd’s NAC colleagues elected him to serve as chair-elect for 2021 and then as chair for 2022. The 2021 chair, Scott Voynich of Georgia, served in that capacity until he became very ill in September and was unable to complete his term as chair through the end of the bishops’ meeting in Baltimore in November, Sadd said. Father Michael Fuller, USCCB general secretary, appointed Sadd as chair to complete Voynich’s term through the end of 2021. He has been serving as chair since mid-October and will complete his term through 2022. He will then serve as past chair through 2023, when his time on the NAC ends. Sadd was nominated to serve as an at-large member on the NAC in 2018 by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. The bishops who serve on the USCCB’s governing body approved his appointment, and his first meeting was in spring 2019. Sadd is a member of the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston and a member of the Knights of Columbus St. Michael the Archangel Council 12630. He is also president of both the Serra Club of Charleston and St. Paul Radio Co., which owns or operates three Catholic radio stations, WLUX, WNUX and WOUX. He is also a Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. “It has been a joy to be able to represent our Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in this small way to seek the greater good for the church,” Sadd said, “and I don’t let the NAC members ever forget that I am a Mountaineer.”