VANCOUVER - Nearly 50,000 Roman Catholics in northern B.C. have a new leader, and he's from Vancouver.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced that Rev. Msgr. Stephen Jensen is replacing Bishop Gerald Wiesner who has held the post in the Diocese of Prince George for the last 19 years.

The organization says Wiesner offered his resignation as required by church law when reaching the age of 75.

According to the conference, Jensen was born in North Vancouver, B.C., educated in Ontario, served as a pastor in Vancouver and Abbotsford, held a position on a catholic school board, and received a doctorate in education in San Francisco, Calif.

The Diocese of Prince George spans about 346,000 square kilometres and covers the area between Prince George in central B.C., the Alberta border to the east, the Yukon border to the north and Haida Gwaii to the west.

Church officials say the Catholic population of the diocese is about 49,500 and includes 37 parishes and missions.

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  • Pope Benedict XVI holds the pastoral staff as he arrives in St. Peter's Basilica to celebrate a New Year's Eve vespers service at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Benedict XVI presides a New Year's Eve vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI has marked the end of a difficult year by saying that despite all the death and injustice in the world, goodness prevails. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Benedict XVI presides a New Year's Eve vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI has marked the end of a difficult year by saying that despite all the death and injustice in the world, goodness prevails. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Benedict XVI presides a New Year's Eve vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI has marked the end of a difficult year by saying that despite all the death and injustice in the world, goodness prevails. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Benedict XVI passes in front of a statue of St. Peter as he arrives in St. Peter's Basilica to celebrate a New Year's Eve vespers service at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Benedict XVI

    Pope Benedict XVI holds the ostensory as he celebrates a New Year's Eve vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011. The Pontiff marked the end of 2011 with prayers of thanks and said humanity awaits the new year with apprehension but also with hope for a better future. "Another year approaches its end, while we await a new one, with the trepidation, desires and expectations of always," Benedict said at the traditional New Year's Eve vespers service, as he delivered his homily from the central altar of St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

  • Benedict XVI

    Pope Benedict XVI holds the ostensory as he celebrates a New Year's Eve vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011. The Pontiff marked the end of 2011 with prayers of thanks and said humanity awaits the new year with apprehension but also with hope for a better future. "Another year approaches its end, while we await a new one, with the trepidation, desires and expectations of always," Benedict said at the traditional New Year's Eve vespers service, as he delivered his homily from the central altar of St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

  • Pope Benedict XVI presides a New Year's Eve vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. The Pontiff has marked the end of a difficult year by saying that despite all the death and injustice in the world, goodness prevails. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Benedict XVI is framed by a Swiss guard as he presides a New Year's Eve vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI has marked the end of a difficult year by saying that despite all the death and injustice in the world, goodness prevails. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Pope Benedict XVI holds the pastoral staff as he arrives in St. Peter's Basilica to celebrate a New Year's Eve vespers service at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)