Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bishop Piché: “I will spend the next 25 years or more of my life thanking . . . you with my service to the church,”

The Cathedral of St. Paul was standing room only as Bishop Lee Piché was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis June 29.

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Newly ordained Bishop Lee Piché, second from right, blesses his parents, LeRoy, left, and Cecilia near the end of the ordination Mass June 29 at the Cathedral of St. Paul, and then continues up the aisle to bless the rest of the congregation. At right is Bishop Richard Pates, former auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese who now serves as the Bishop of Des Moines. - Photo by Dave Hrbacek - The Catholic Spirit

[Bishop Piché's seminary classmates were given red chasubles and seats of honor in the front row of the priests so they could look on him with envy (or with sympathy and prayers) from a close vantage point].
The day of the ordination was also the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and the end of the Year of St. Paul, which began June 29, 2008.

“It is . . . appropriate that we gather today on this wonderful feast of these two great apostles to ordain through the laying on of hands a successor in that apostolic college,” Archbishop John Nienstedt said in his homily, which included a message in Spanish. “It is through this unbroken succession that the work of our savior continues in our own day and age.”

Archbishop Nienstedt presided at the liturgy. Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Bishop John LeVoir of New Ulm co-consecrated Bishop Piché.

Also attending were Bishops Richard Pates of Des Moines, Peter Christensen of Superior Wis., John Quinn of Winona, Michael Hoeppner of Crookston, Paul Swain of Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Bishops Emeritus Bernard Harrington of Winona, Victor Balke of Crookston and Raphael Fliss of Superior.

Father James Bissonette, the diocesan administrator of the diocese of Duluth, also attended the ordination. All priests and bishops present concelebrated the Mass.

‘Praise and gratitude to God’

Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Piché a bishop May 27. He had been serving as archdiocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia since June 2008.

Ordained a priest in 1984, he obtained a master’s degree in philosophy from Columbia University in New York and taught at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul from 1994 to 1997. He served as pastor of St. Joseph in West St. Paul from 1999 to 2005 and of All Saints in Lakeville from 2005 to 2008. He had also been serving as pastor of St. Andrew in St. Paul until the episcopal announcement.

Near the end of the liturgy, Bishop Piché told those gathered he was filled with “praise and gratitude to God, and to all of you.”

“I will spend the next 25 years or more of my life thanking . . . you with my service to the church,” he said.

He takes hope from the lives of Sts. Peter and Paul, he said.

“I cannot help but think of St. Peter in his little boat, in the Sea of Galilee, after having received the miraculous catch of the fishes, kneeling down before the Lord, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.’ I can identify with him,” Bishop Piché said. “But it was to that same Simon Peter that Jesus said, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on, you will be catching men.’”

He said he could also identify with St. Paul, who in a letter to the Corinthians described himself as the ‘least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.’”

“It was to this same Paul that Jesus said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness,’” Bishop Piché said.

Overjoyed apostles

“Both St. Peter and St. Paul would have been overjoyed — are overjoyed from their place in heaven as they witness this assembly here today,” he said. “I hope they are happy I was ordained a bishop to succeed them and the other apostles, but I know they would be very happy to see this massive throng of believers, united with one heart and one voice.”

In a fashion familiar to those who know Bishop Piché, he cracked jokes about his now chrism-stained zucchetto and a miter that was too wide for his head.

“That tells me I’m going to have to grow into this,” he said with a smile, “but without getting a big head.”

Before the closing prayer, Archbishop Nienstedt recognized special groups in attendance and the people who had helped prepare for the ordination. Last, he thanked Bishop Piché’s parents, LeRoy and Cecilia Piché, for giving their son to the church.

The liturgical music was provided by the Cathedral Brass, St. Agnes High School Concert Corale and Chamber Choir, and the St. Agnes Schola Cantorum, which were joined by members of All Saints in Lakeville and St. Joseph in West St. Paul.
Catholic Spirit
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