Religious leaders from far and near admire new bishop

Categories: Around the Diocese

Nov. 15, 2013, edition
By Kristi Anderson
For The Visitor

“Give him back!” joked Bishop Edward Burns, bishop of Juneau, Alaska, who traveled over 2,500 miles to attend the installation of his friend and colleague, Bishop Donald Kettler.

“The people of the St. Cloud Diocese are so blessed to have Bishop Kettler coming their way,” Bishop Burns said. “I have known and served with him for years, and I will really miss him, as will the people of Fairbanks.”

Bishop Burns was one of 22 archbishops and bishops who attended the installation celebration Nov. 7.

Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and head of the Minnesota province, presided as the installing bishop.

“I have known Bishop Kettler for the past 11 years through the Bishop’s Conference,” he said. “I have followed his newsletter from Fairbanks and admired his strong missionary spirit.

“He called to tell me he had been assigned to St. Cloud, and I couldn’t have been more pleased,” he continued. “I look forward to having him as a neighbor and fellow member of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.”

Others from the Minnesota province included: Bishop Emeritus Victor Balke and Bishop Michael Hoeppner, both of Crookston, Bishop John LeVoir of New Ulm, Bishop John Quinn of Winona, Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth, and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche and Bishop-elect Andrew Cozzens, both of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Other attending bishops from the province were: Bishop Peter Christensen of Superior, Wis., Bishop John Folda of Fargo, N.D., Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City, S.D., and Bishop Paul Swain of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Those from Bishop Kettler’s former province in Alaska included his two close friends, Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage and Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau, and three bishops from the neighboring province of Portland, Ore. — Bishop Liam Cary of Baker, Ore., Missionary of the Holy Spirit Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, of Seattle, and Bishop Michael Warfel of Billings, Mont.

A warm welcome

At the welcoming rite during solemn vespers, Franciscan Sister and community president Beatrice Eichten, spoke on behalf of all the religious communities of the diocese.

“We are pleased to welcome Bishop Don to our diocese,” she said, “and have pledged our support and our commitment to collaborate with him in spreading the good news of God’s presence.

“We have felt from him a warmth and openness towards women and men religious and we look forward to getting to know him better. And, we will look for

ways to have him get to know us, both through our ministries and through our prayer and presence among the people in our diocese. We affirm his message that our church needs to be about healing and reconciling and we will work with him to help make that the face of our diocesan church.”

ELCA Lutheran Bishops Jon Anderson, Southwestern Minnesota Synod, and Lawrence Wohlrabe, Northwestern Minnesota Synod, were invited to represent the ecumenical and interfaith communities in the diocese.

Bishop Wohlrabe, president of the Minnesota Council of Churches, attended the solemn vespers.

“The Diocese of St. Cloud graciously invited ecumenical leaders like me not only to attend the vespers but also to participate in the welcoming rite along with five other representatives of Christian communions in our state,” he said. “In both his remarks at the banquet preceding the vespers and his homily,” Bishop Wohlrabe continued, “I heard in Bishop Kettler the voice of a faithful shepherd who is down-to-earth, plain-spoken and humble. His reflections on ministry in Fairbanks, Alaska, and now in St. Cloud — both the similarities and the differences between these two dioceses — revealed him to be a pastor of deep wisdom and insight.”

Bishop Anderson shared Bishop Wohlrabe’s sentiments and added that he looks forward to “serving Christ and getting to know Bishop Kettler in the days to come” and that he “appreciated his homily on healing in Thursday’s service.”

Bishop Emeritus Walter Hurley of Grand Rapids, Mich., also traveled to Minnesota; first, because he has known Bishop Kettler for many years and holds him in high regard, and second, because he has a connection with the Crosier community here, having had many Crosiers intern with him when he was a priest in Detroit.

“Bishop Don did amazing things not only in Sioux Falls but especially as the bishop of Fairbanks,” Bishop Hurley said. “He worked under very difficult circumstances and was able to bring about a lot of healing.

“He is very pastoral and warm,” he added. “The people of the St. Cloud Diocese will be delighted with him.”

The guests who traveled the farthest were Bishop Philip Anyolo and Father Abraham Aiyoko from Homa Bay, Kenya, whose diocese has a sister relationship with the Diocese of St. Cloud.

“I am convinced that our partnership will grow from strength to strength,” Bishop Anyolo said. “I have no doubt that Bishop Kettler will continue the good work being done within this relationship. Being he is from Alaska, he is very mission-minded. We will continue to work on evangelization activities from diocese to diocese and throughout the universal church.”