‘I am blessed to be here’

Categories: Around the Diocese

Diocese welcomes Bishop Kettler first at vespers service

Nov. 15, 2013, edition
By Bob Zyskowski

Five thumps on the huge wooden doors of St. Mary’s Cathedral Nov. 6 signaled the arrival of Bishop Donald J. Kettler to become the new leader of the more than 160,000 Catholics in the Diocese of St. Cloud.


After ceremoniously knocking on the door of St. Mary’s Cathedral the evening of Nov. 6, Bishop Donald Kettler enters the St. Cloud church to be welcomed during a vespers service one day before his installation as the bishop of St. Cloud. Greeting him is Deacon Timothy Gapinski, who served as one of the deacons for the vespers and the installation Mass Nov. 7. Photo by Dianne Towalski

The packed downtown St. Cloud church filled with prayer, music, incense and applause from scores of clergy, hundreds of lay people, religious and civic leaders at the evening vesper service welcoming the bishop.

All was in anticipation of Bishop Kettler’s installation Nov. 7 when he would officially take the seat of the bishop in the cathedral as the ninth ordinary of the central Minnesota diocese.

Appointment letter read

At the vesper service, Bishop Kettler ceremoniously asked to be recognized, showing his letter of appointment to the St. Cloud see to retiring Bishop John Kinney and to diocesan consultors in the presence of chancellor Benedictine Sister Nancy Bauer.

Vicar general Father Robert Rolfes read the apostolic mandate from Pope Francis and welcomed the bishop on behalf of the diocese.

After sustained applause, Bishop Kettler thanked first Bishop Kinney “for the foundation of faith” he had continued as bishop of St. Cloud, and the cathedral burst into applause and a standing ovation in acknowledgment of Bishop Kinney’s 18 years of service to the diocese.

He also shared a “welcome back” to Archbishop Jerome Hanus, the archbishop of Dubuque who served as bishop of St. Cloud from 1987 to 1994.

Catholic and civic leaders — priests of the diocese, the permanent diaconate community, religious men and women, ecumenical, government and multicultural communities and the youth and young adults of the diocese — greeted Bishop Kettler on behalf of those they represent.


In his homily at the vespers service, Bishop Kettler said he is “flattered, excited, humbled and nervous” as he accepts the pope’s appointment to the St. Cloud Diocese. Photo by Dianne Towalski

In a homily, Bishop Kettler said the call to serve as bishop of St. Cloud “leapt out at me,” adding that he’s come to accept that first instincts are the work of the Holy Spirit.

While doubt and avoiding risk came naturally later, he took solace in the Scripture passage that all are worthy of the call they have received.

“The whole sorry story of humanity might be reflected in the struggle between love and fear,” the bishop said, and he finds himself “flattered, excited, humbled and nervous” as he accepts the pope’s appointment to the St. Cloud Diocese.

Bishop Kettler said his previous ministry in Fairbanks — working with many people in native cultures that were under siege by modern society — was “daunting but rewarding.”

He marveled at native people’s “sense of community, genrosity and reverence of nature,” and he came to see “differences in custom were really window dressing.”

He said he brings the conviction “we are all one people, informed and graced by God” to the Diocese of St. Cloud and her people.

“Your diocese — our diocese,” Bishop Kettler said, “is blessed, and I am blessed to be here.”