Bishop Kettler installed as bishop of St. Cloud

Categories: Around the Diocese

Bishop Kettler installed as bishop of St. Cloud

Nov. 15, 2013, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

In good times and bad times, Bishop Donald Kettler hopes to be walking beside the people of the St. Cloud Diocese.

“There are ruts in the road and sometimes difficult — bitter even — weather, but the Spirit is with us,” he said during the installation Mass homily Nov. 7 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. “The kingdom of God is waiting for us.”


Upon his verbal acceptance of his appointment by Pope Francis to lead the
Diocese of St. Cloud Nov. 7, Bishop Donald Kettler receives the applause of a packed St. Mary’s Cathedral, including that of his fellow bishops. Photo by Paul Middlestaedt / For The Visitor

In reflecting on his previous and current assignments, the bishop recalled his experience in the Fairbanks Diocese in Alaska and dealing with sexual abuse cases. He said that the church needs to be an instrument of healing to help people face a variety of challenges. He also spoke of everyone’s call to care for one another.

“We are one people with one God,” he said. “Most of us are still in need of God’s healing love and forgiveness and in need of people who care about each other. We are called by baptism in the Holy Spirit to care for one another and we are called to be healers.”

Bishop Kettler was officially seated in the cathedra, the bishop’s chair, during the installation Mass Nov. 7 at St. Mary’s and became the ninth bishop of the St. Cloud Diocese. He succeeds Bishop John Kinney, who had submitted his request to retire nearly 17 months before when he reached 75, the mandatory age of retirement for ordinaries.

Donald Kettler was born in Minneapolis and raised in Sioux Falls, S.D.

After graduating from Crosier Seminary Junior College in Onamia and St. John’s University and Seminary in Collegeville, he was ordained a priest for the Sioux Falls Diocese in 1970. He served in the Sioux Falls Diocese until 2002 when he was appointed the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Fairbanks, a position he held until coming to St. Cloud.

Pope’s letter read aloud

viganoVarious groups from the diocese welcomed Bishop Kettler the prior evening during solemn vespers at the cathedral.

The installation Mass began with a procession of more than 20 bishops, about 150 priests and nearly 50 deacons.

After Father Anthony Oelrich, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of St. Augustine Parish and Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud, welcomed all those in attendance, Bishop Kettler requested to be seated at the cathedra.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio who is Pope Francis’ personal representative to the Catholic Church in the United States, read the apostolic mandate, which is the official document sent by the Holy See that described Bishop Kettler’s new assignment.


Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio and Pope Francis’ personal representative to the Catholic Church in the United States, reads the apostolic mandate, which is the official document sent by the Holy See that described Bishop Kettler’s new assignment. Archbishop John Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and metropolitan of the province that includes Minnesota and North and South Dakota, questions Bishop Kettler on his willingness to accept the office as bishop of St. Cloud. Photos by Paul Middlestaedt

“Because of your pastoral zeal in that diocese, we judge you have the ability to succeed the retired ordinary of this diocese provided you continue to employ the same charity which you have shown to the sheepfold which up until now has been entrusted to your care,” the letter said.

It also encouraged the people of the St. Cloud Diocese to warmly welcome Bishop Kettler as their shepherd and guardian of truth and asked Bishop Kettler to reach out to the people.

“It will be your task to teach the faithful of St. Cloud the precepts of Christ doing so with as much patience and tenderness as possible,” the mandate continued.

After the mandate was read, St. Cloud Vicar General Father Robert Rolfes showed the document to the consultors of the diocese so they could attest to its authenticity, and Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis asked Bishop Kettler if he agreed to accept it.

“With faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and with the love of God in my heart I do accept the pastoral care of the people of God in the Diocese of St. Cloud, and I resolve to serve faithfully the church in this diocese,” Bishop Kettler said.

Bishop Kettler was then led to the cathedra by Archbishops Viganò and Nienstedt, and a lengthy standing ovation followed.

Greeted by many

Following the seating in the cathedra, the assembly prayed a “Prayer for Our New Bishop” that asked God to grant Bishop Kettler “a kindly zeal to continue the work of his predecessors.”

In his homily, Bishop Kettler thanked Pope Francis for the trust he had placed in him, and he paid tribute to Bishop Kinney, noting, “You are a true blessing to all of us. Our prayers are with you — stay healthy.”

The assembly responded with applause and a standing ovation.

Mass continued with Bishop Kettler presiding. To represent the various cultures in the St. Cloud Diocese, the prayers of the faithful were read in six lan-guages. “A Shepherd’s Call,” written by Deirdre Harkins for the occasion, was played during the preparation of the offerings.

For the eucharistic prayer, bishops and archbishops joined him around the altar, and priests of the diocese added their voices from where they were in the cathedral pews.

After the installation Mass, Bishop Kettler stepped outside to the top of the steps of the cathedral and blessed the city and the diocese before greeting many of the hundreds of people in attendance.

Hundreds more attended a public reception at St. Paul Church in St. Cloud following the Mass, some lining up for as long as one hour in order to welcome the new ordinary.



Jeanie Raitor of St. Cloud greets Bishop Ketter following his installation Mass. At left, Hal Wick, a friend of the bishop’s from Sioux Falls, S.D., since they were Cub Scouts together, waits his turn. Photo by Paul Middlestaedt 



Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully



Laity and deacons join in prayer and song during the installation Mass for Bishop Kettler. Photo by Paul Middlestaedt