Bishop Kettler takes opportunity to preside at St. Mary’s Cathedral

Categories: Around the Diocese

Sept. 27, 2013, edition
By Lynette Thelen

Bishop Donald Kettler took the opportunity to preside and to preach at the 5 p.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral Sept. 21, joining Father Tony Oelrich, rector at the cathedral.

Bishop Kettler shared a bit of his history: He was born in Minneapolis in 1944, grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D., and attended school and seminary in Onamia and Collegeville.

“I come to you with a great appreciation for the call to come here,” Bishop Kettler began. “I’m grateful and I am very, very pleased to be here and to serve as your new bishop. I come here with the idea of trying not to mess up anything. Things are beautiful, are special and are good here. The people, the faith-filled people, are wonderful. The young people I’ve met are special.”


Bishop Donald Kettler is welcomed by those who attended the Saturday evening Mass Sept. 21 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. Paul Middlestaedt / For The Visitor

He went on to share that his parents — Joseph and Marguerite — were married during World War II. His dad then served in Europe. After his father returned, the family moved to Sioux Falls, S.D., where Joseph worked as a federal meat inspector.

Bishop Kettler attended a prep school in Sioux City, Iowa, and college at the Crosier seminary in Onamia for two years before going to St. John’s University.

“Those were special years,” he shared. “I regret it a little bit, because I was more interested in playing basketball than in studying theology.”

Ordained for Sioux Falls

Ordained a priest for the Sioux Falls Diocese in 1970, he served as a parish priest and as judicial vicar in the marriage tribunal. In 2002 moved to Fairbanks, where he served as bishop for 11 years.

“I will miss being in Alaska,” he said of his time in Fairbanks. “But I also am very happy and joy-filled to serve here as your bishop as well.

“It’s like coming home again,” he said.

Preaching on the Gospel reading from Luke 16, he said, “One of the most important things for us Christians and us Catholics today is that you can’t serve two masters. We cannot love both God and mammon.

“It’s an important message for us tonight, that we have to keep God first. That has to be our first priority, and we need to take time every day to make sure that connectedness with God really exists.

“A good test of knowing whether we are becoming too influenced by money or other things is to remember that the first thing we are called to do with what we have is to take care of our families and our communities, but then to take care of the poor and those who have the most need.

“If we do that well and if we try to keep our life somewhat simple, then we will serve that master we’re supposed to serve, our God.”

An answer to prayers

Lewis and Janet Stark, members of St. Patrick Parish in Minden Township, were at the cathedral and shared their thoughts with The Visitor.

“He’s just so down to earth,” said Lewis. “He is welcoming and wants to work with the people.”

“We’re so happy he’s here,” noted Janet. “We’ve been praying for this for a long time. It is exciting when you get a new bishop.”

“I appreciated his philosophy that he ‘doesn’t want to mess things up’ in our diocese,” Lewis added, “the fact that he thinks we have a good diocese and wants to keep it that way.”

Jason and Stephanie Vos, members of St. Mary’s Cathedral, were also in attendance with their four young boys.

“It’s nice that he’s from this area,” Jason said. “I liked how he said that first our obligations are to our family and community, then to the poor. And, we need younger couples to step up.”

“We need to keep them engaged,” Stephanie said. “Asking them to help is a good way to get people involved. The priests draw people in and make it enjoyable. When they encourage us to bring our kids, it lets us know that they want to have our family here.”