Msgr. Timothy C. Senior has been named an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Senior, 49, whose appointment was announced yesterday by Cardinal Justin Rigali, had served as the archdiocese's vicar for clergy for five years and as secretary, or head, of Catholic Human Services here for the last seven.

The archdiocesan agency, with 4,500 employees, includes Catholic Health Care Services and Catholic Social Services, and is the the largest private provider of social services in Pennsylvania.

Rigali has not yet identified Senior's new duties. The archdiocese has four active auxiliary bishops, all of whom serve as vicars for administration under Rigali. In addition to advising him, they typically oversee archdiocesan offices and geographical areas, and perform confirmations.

Senior's appointment follows the announcement last month that Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Cistone would depart in July to head the Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. Cistone oversees the secretariat for Catholic Human Services and the secretariat for Temporal Services, and has pastoral oversight for the parishes in Philadelphia-South and parts of Delaware County.

Senior will be consecrated a bishop at a Mass on July 31 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

Asked at yesterday's news conference how his experience at Catholic Human Services had shaped him, Senior said he had learned to "recognize . . . the face of Jesus Christ in the face of the poor and suffering."

For the last nine years, he has lived at Divine Providence Village in Springfield, Delaware County, a home for developmentally disabled women.

Senior choked up several times during his remarks, twice while thanking his mother and family for their support during his 24 years of priesthood. His father, James H. Senior, died when he was 17.

He said he got the phone call from Rigali as he prepared to plant flowers Memorial Day at his mother's home in North Wales, where he grew up. After praying for several minutes, he resumed planting the impatiens and geraniums "because I wasn't allowed to tell anyone" the news.

Senior graduated from the St. Rose of Lima parish school and in 1977 from Lansdale Catholic High School, where he wrote its alma mater. Having studied for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, he was ordained in 1985.

A classically trained musician who plays piano and organ, he holds master's degrees in divinity, theology, social work and business administration. In his introductory remarks yesterday, Rigali praised Senior's "notable administrative gifts and tireless work ethic."

Contact staff writer David O'Reilly at 215-854-5723 or doreilly@phillynews.com.