A priest from Philadelphia will become the next Bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, the Vatican announced today.

Monsignor Herbert A. Bevard - who has served as pastor of St. Athanasius Parish in the West Oak Lane section for 14 years - will be ordained and installed Sept. 3 as Bishop at the Cathedral of of SS. Peter and Paul in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.

The Bishop-elect, 62, known to his friends as "Herbie," grew up as a Presbyterian in Chester County. In 1964, he converted to Catholicism. He was ordained a priest in 1972 after attending St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

"I'm being transferred to paradise," Bevard said this morning at a press conference in St. Thomas. His new Diocese encompasses four islands, eight parishes, and 30,000 parishioners.

Bevard has served as Assistant Pastor at several parishes within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In 1994 he was appointed pastor of St. Athanasius. He was named Monsignor in 2003 before Cardinal Justin Rigali appointed him Vicar for Philadelphia-North in 2007.

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or at samwood@phillynews.com.