As reported here late last week, the longest vacancy of a Stateside diocese was settled this morning with the Pope's appointment of Fr John LeVoir, a priest of the Twin Cities and pastor of Ss. Michael and Mary parish [parishes] in Stillwater, as bishop of New Ulm.
LeVoir, 62, succeeds Archbishop John Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis, who was transferred out of the exurban Minnesota church in April 2007. Ordained in 1981 and a parish priest throughout, the bishop-elect -- an accountant before entering seminary -- has authored a series of books, both on the teachings of John Paul II and the Image of God catechetical series.
Following in the footsteps of Bishop Peter Christensen of Superior, the bishop-to-be is the second Twin Cities pastor named an ordinary in the last year -- and the figure jumps to three when Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines gets added in; the former local auxiliary was named to the Iowa diocese in April.
As always, more to come.
From the bishop-elect:
My background is that of a parish priest. I was an Associate Pastor at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony for eleven years, and Pastor of Holy Trinity in South St. Paul for twelve years and for four of those years, I was at the same time Pastor of St. Augustine in South St. Paul. I have been Pastor of St. Michael and St. Mary in Stillwater since 2004.For not a few, the mention of Schuler will ring a bell -- a revered figure among church conservatives, the sacred musician led the Twin Cities' Tradition-haven of St Agnes for nearly four decades before his death last year.
I am grateful to the parishioners of all of these parishes for their goodness to me. I am especially grateful to the late Monsignor Richard Schuler for the support that he gave me during my seminary years and for Father Francis Kittock, who was my Pastor and mentor at St. Charles Borromeo where I was his Associate.
I am particularly grateful to my parents, Marvin A. LeVoir, now deceased, and Mary A. LeVoir, now 93 years old, and to my brothers Frederick J. LeVoir and Paul W. LeVoir, and my sister, Mary Ellen Steinkraus.
In his retirement years, I was blessed to have known Bishop Alphonse Schladweiler, the founding Bishop of the New Ulm diocese. He was a kind and gentle shepherd.
I am pleased that this announcement is being made on July 14, the Feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680). She was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II. Kateri is the first Native American to be declared Blessed.
I am going to be a new Bishop. I know that I have much to learn about serving as a Bishop and about the New Ulm diocese. Archbishop Nienstedt has assured me of his advice and help. I appreciate that so much. I ask the clergy, the religious, and the people of the diocese to be patient with me and to pray for me, as I will for them. With the help of God's grace, I will do my best to be a faithful shepherd.
Rocco, of course
St Charles Borromeo, Holy Trinity, St. Augustine, St Mike's and St. Mary's: You can't find a much better pedigree than that around here.
Now that we have our episcopal needs fulfilled for the time being, maybe now we can honor some of our highly deserving priests of the archdiocese as monsignori!