Thursday, June 28, 2007

Appointments: Not Just for Tuesdays

Keeping with a distinct trend of this pontificate, another US cleric with an extensive background in priestly formation has been elevated to the episcopate.

This morning, the Pope named Fr Peter Christensen of the archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis as bishop of Superior, succeeding Bishop Raphael Fliss, whose resignation was accepted for reasons of age.

Having led Northwest Wisconsin's 83,000 Catholics since 1985, Fliss turned 75 in October, 2005 (i.e. twenty months ago).

Until now pastor of Nativity parish in St Paul, the California-born bishop-elect, 54, worked as a graphic designer between two years of college and entering seminary formation. After ordination for the Twin Cities in 1985, he spent a decade as spiritual director and rector of the archdiocese's minor seminary, St John Vianney.

Christensen was named pastor of Nativity in 1999, where he's continued the parish practice of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Per the provisions of canon law, he must be ordained and installed within four months of this morning's appointment.

In related news, the Twin Cities formally welcome their shepherd-to-be tomorrow, as Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt formally takes up his duties as successor-in-waiting to Archbishop Harry Flynn. A general invitation has been issued for the afternoon Mass in the Cathedral of St Paul, and a "comfortable maximum" crowd of 2,800 is expected.

And as the US' extensively-backlogged appointment docket brings another succession process to its completion, another diocese goes on the pile within a week's time as Bishop James Murray of Kalamazoo reaches the retirement age on 5 July.

Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo... and, yes, we really will need an appointment every three and a half weeks for the next 18 years to keep the backlog from overloading any further.