Friday, May 2, 2008

It's official! Archbishop Harry Flynn retires; Archbishop John Nienstedt takes reins

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The Catholic Spirit - Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Harry Flynn, according to an announcement this morning by Father Kevin McDonough, vicar general of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. As of 5 a.m., May 2, Archbishop John Nienstedt became the eighth archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In an interview last week with The Catholic Spirit, Archbishop Flynn said he is ready for retirement.

"I think there are different phases in our lives that we approach," he said. "I'm ready for this -- to hand over the responsibility for this great archdiocese to Archbishop Nienstedt and to have more time for prayer and reading and also for more pastoral work, which I will integrate into my life gradually."

The interview and other stories about Archbishop Flynn are published in this week in a special tribute edition of The Catholic Spirit (Click here for a link to the interview and stories.). The archbishop turned 75 years old on May 2, the normal retirement age for bishops.

Archbishop Flynn, a native of Schenectady, N.Y., was named coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Feb. 22, 1994. He succeeded Archbishop John Roach upon his retirement Oct. 1, 1995. Archbishop Flynn previously served as the bishop of Lafayette, La., rector of Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and as a pastor in the Diocese of Albany, N.Y.

There are no public events planned scheduled at this time to thank Archbishop Flynn for his service. "Archbishop Flynn has resisted our best attempts to persuade him to allow a major archdiocesan show of gratitude to him," Father McDonough said in a letter May 2 to area pastors and church leaders. "Nonetheless, if you want to send him words of thanks, you can still write him at this Chancery address [226 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102].

Archbishop Nienstedt was appointed coadjutor archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis on April 24, 2007. A coadjutor archbishop shares with the archbishop in the governance, administration and pastoral ministry of the archdiocese. He immediately succeeds the local archbishop upon his resignation.

Archbishop Nienstedt previously served as bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm from 2001 to 2007. A native of Detroit, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1996.

"This past year has been a painful one for him, especially as he had the sad honor of burying both his father and mother," Father McDonough said. "Even so, he has been watching attentively and learning about his local church. . . . As you remember him in the eucharistic prayer as our diocesan bishop for the first time this weekend, please ask that God give him a fruitful and happy ministry of leadership."

In a statement, Archbishop Nienstedt said: "I am grateful to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for his confidence in naming me archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It is a tremendous responsibility for pastoring the people of God now assigned to my care. I ask for the prayerful support of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike."

He congratulated Archbishop Flynn on his birthday and thanked him for his nearly 14 years of service to the archdiocese.

"I am so grateful that he is planning to stay in the local area and be available for consultation. I know I can stand tall on the shoulders of Archbishop Flynn and his predecessors," Archbishop Nienstedt said.

Watch next week's Catholic Spirit for an interview with Archbishop Nienstedt regarding his experiences in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the last year and his plans for the future.

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