Marvelous trait comes with this new bishop

Categories: Editorial

From Becker to Breckenridge, from Waite Park to Wadena, people of the Diocese of St. Cloud are likely to take notice of one characteristic of their soon-to-be bishop: He’s amazingly open and honest.

Bishop Donald Kettler answered every question, offered no pat answers, acknowledged times he didn’t do his best and shared his thoughts frankly about a variety of difficult issues, both at the press conference at which he was introduced and during a separate interview with The Visitor.


In an hour-long interview at the offices of The Visitor, Bishop Donald Kettler was candid and shared his thoughts openly. Paul Middlestaedt / For The Visitor

Having agreed Sept. 3 to take on this new assignment in St. Cloud, he said he felt uncomfortable at times that, until the Vatican announced his appointment Sept. 20, he wasn’t able to tell his staff in Fairbanks not to include him in upcoming diocesan plans.

Since he’s South Dakota-raised, we Minnesotans likely will see his candor as typical of us Midwesterners, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But more likely the bishop’s straightforwardness is a sign of the kind of wisdom that comes not just with age but also from being comfortable in one’s own skin.

It’s a self-confidence tempered with humility that is the product of taking time to collaborate to get decisions right and, of course, from prayer — from seeking God’s help for so many reasons, for so many years.

Bishop Kettler’s familiarity with our diocese, thanks to time spent in the colleges and the seminaries in Onamia and Collegeville, is an unexpected plus. Bishops are often appointed knowing very little about their new assignments.

He has a background that includes being rector of the cathedral parish in his native Sioux Falls, dealing with canon law and marriage annulments as judicial vicar for the Sioux Falls Diocese and being pastor of a large parish before being named to lead a unique diocese, the northern-most on the continent. Bishop Kettler may not have done it all as a priest, but he’s done quite a lot.

He gained a great appreciation of the various native Alaskan cultures. While visiting villages in the far-flung parts of the enormous Diocese of Fairbanks. It will serve him well as he leads a diocese that includes both native Americans and an increasing variety of people who have come from around the globe to make central Minnesota their home.

And, as happy St. Cloud Catholics are to finally know that a successor has been named for Bishop John Kinney, we are sure that few are as pleased as Bishop Kinney himself.

Not only can he turn over the reins at last, but also Bishop Kinney can step down and retire knowing that the leadership of the diocese he loves will be in such good and capable hands.