Friday, October 17, 2008

Let's not forget Winona!

New bishop of Winona diocese pledges a steady course

The soon-to-be bishop of the Diocese of Winona made one thing clear in his first public comments since his appointment: Don't expect any sudden changes.

"As far as a direction, I'm going to keep going — why would you change the marvelous direction this diocese has been in?" said Bishop John M. Quinn, 62, on Wednesday. Quinn is an auxiliary bishop from the Archdiocese of Detroit who will succeed retiring Bishop Bernard Harrington.

Quinn and Harrington are similar in many regards. Both are Detroit natives of Irish ancestry, and both were education leaders in the Archdiocese of Detroit before being named auxiliary, or assistant, bishops. The two met more than 30 years ago when they were priests and worked together more recently when Quinn was director of the archdiocese's education department and Harrington was an auxiliary bishop.

"I'm really delighted with the appointment of Bishop Quinn, who I know so personally and who will keep up many of the implements that are taking place," Harrington said.

Outgoing bishops can have considerable influence on appointing their successor, so it's likely Harrington lobbied for Quinn, said Don Briel, director of the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas University in St. Paul.

At the same time, Briel said, Quinn's appointment could be the latest sign of the growing influence of the Archdiocese of Detroit and its leader, Cardinal Adam Maida. Other archdiocese auxiliary bishops who have been given significant U.S. leadership roles include Oakland Diocese Bishop Allen Vigneron and Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. All except Quinn served as rector of the Archdiocese of Detroit's seminary.

"Cardinal Maida is clearly having some influence," Briel said, and could be gaining influence similar to what Cardinal Bernard Law once had in the Archdiocese of Boston.

The following Detroit priests/bishops have taken the reins in other dioceses around the country since Cardinal Maida became Archbishop of Detroit in 1990:

Bishop Alexander Brunette, of Helena, MT, 1994-1997
Bishop Dale Melczek, of Gary, IN, 1996
Archbishop Alexander Brunette, of Seattle, WA, 1997
Bishop Bernard Harrington, of Winona, MN, 1998
Bishop John Nienstedt, of New Ulm, MN, 2001-2007
Bishop Alan Vigneron, of Oakland, CA, 2003
Bishop Leonard Blair, of Toledo, OH, 2003
Bishop Walter Hurley, of Grand Rapids, MI, 2005
Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt, St Paul and Minneapolis, MN, 2007
Bishop Earl Boyea, of Lansing, MI, 2008
Coadjutor Bishop John Quinn, of Winona, MN, 2008

No wonder that Cardinal Maida is still going strong in Detroit at age 78. He's the American Church's primary "bishop scout and trainer."

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