Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Winona Provides Yet Another Leader for the Church

There must be something in the water in Winona. After having sent Father Robert Brom to be Bishop of Duluth in 1983 and then in 1990 on to San Diego; its Bishop John Vlazny on to Portland, Ore. as Archbishop in 1997; and just last year having sent Father Michael Hoeppner on as Bishop of Crookston; now the Diocese of Winona is sending the rector of its Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, Father James Steffes, to Washington.

We're told that "This is a huge loss to us. Fr. Steffes is a deep Christian and good guy all round. He's been a great rector at IHM seminary here. . . ."

Father James P. Steffes, rector of Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, has been named executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

He succeeds Msgr. Edward Burns, who returns to the Diocese of Pittsburgh for pastoral work. The new appointment becomes effective August 1.

Father Steffes holds a licentiate in sacred theology from the Institute of St. Thomas Aquinas (The Angelicum) in Rome. In 2002, he was named rector of the Winona seminary, where he had been director of spiritual formation from 1997.

“Father Steffes brings broad experience in seminary and diocesan work to this important office of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB),” said Msgr. David Malloy, USCCB general secretary. “His additional background in spiritual direction and retreat work makes him well prepared to serve as the Executive Director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations,” he said.

“Father Steffes’ work follows the dedicated, enthusiastic service of Msgr. Burns. I am grateful for Msgr. Burns’s leadership during these past ten years, and I wish him well as he returns to service in his home diocese of Pittsburgh.”

In accepting the position, Father Steffes said “I am deeply humbled and honored to have this opportunity to support the bishops of our country in this key area of ministry as they shepherd the people of God toward salvation. I have been blessed to work in vocation and formation ministry for the past 12 years and feel God deepening a call in me to continue this now in a new and special way through this office.”

Father Steffes was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Winona in 1993, after completing seminary studies at the Gregorian University in Rome. After ordination he taught at Loyola High School in Mankato, Minnesota, and was parochial vicar at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Mankato, Minnesota; Holy Family Parish, Crystal Lake, Minnesota; and at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona. He served as diocesan vocations director and director of seminarians from 1996-2002.

He has been sacramental minister at St. Mary’s University from 1996 to the present.

Father Steffes was a member of the Vatican-appointed Apostolic Seminary Visitation Team, which reviewed seminaries across the United States in 2005-2006. He also has served on numerous boards and councils including the Winona diocesan diaconate formation board, diocesan lay ministry screening board, and the board of the Villa Maria Retreat Center in Frontenac, Minnesota and the National Association of College Seminaries board. USCCB


Fr. Andrew said...

This is good news for the USCCB offices. I underwent the Ignatian Exercises in the summer of 2004 along with Father Steffes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you get to know a man when you pray together for 30 days without talking.

He is a man of Gospel conversion and fidelity to the Church. This truly is a loss for Winona and IHM. His masculine and prayerful living of the priesthood is inspiring.

Keep him in your prayers, I imagine that this post will involve some conflicting visions of Christian vocation, priestly and consecrated identity. May he propose the fullness of Christian vocation with the elegance and fidelity of our Holy Father.

The Ironic Catholic said...

I can also vouch that Fr. Steffes is a great person and a deep Christian. We will miss him.

He's also a rather young guy (as these things go, maybe 42?), so at least in terms of vocations, he speaks the newer generation's language.