Bishop Kettler: Letter to pope, visit to Rome will highlight strengths and needs of diocese

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 

On Nov. 26, I will celebrate a milestone birthday of sorts. I’ll be turning 75 — the age at which bishops are required to submit their letters of resignation to the pope. I will send my letter to the apostolic nuncio — the ambassador of the Holy See — in Washington, D.C. The nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, will forward it to Pope Francis. 

By Bishop Donald Kettler

I will receive a response fairly soon after that, and I anticipate that I will be asked to continue to serve our diocese in the same way I have been until the Holy Father appoints a new bishop. There is no set timeframe for this; we will have to wait until the Holy Father is ready to name a new shepherd — one whom he feels best meets the needs of our diocese at this time. 

In my letter to Pope Francis, I will describe the current state of our diocese and some of these needs. You are already familiar with many of them: the transition to Area Catholic Communities, the potential impact of bankruptcy reorganization, the increasing multicultural character of our diocese and the need to strengthen our evangelization efforts, particularly among young people. 

Earlier this year, I sent the nuncio a lengthy description of the state of our diocese in preparation for the “ad limina” visit I will make to the Vatican in January with the other bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “Ad limina” comes from the Latin phrase “ad limina apostolorum” (“to the thresholds of the apostles”), a reference to the pilgrimage to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul that bishops are required to make periodically. The report gives a full picture of the life of the Church in this diocese — its strengths as well as its challenges. My hope is that it will assist the Holy Father in the process of selecting a new bishop. 

You will be hearing more about the visit as it gets closer. Please keep me and the diocese in your prayers; I continue to hold all of you in prayer as we look toward the future together. 


Bishop Kinney greets the crowd outside after his installation Mass, July 6, 1995.
Photo by Dianne Towalski

I will always remember how warmly Bishop Emeritus John Kinney welcomed me to this diocese back in 2013. I appreciated his hospitality, his commitment to the sacraments and Catholic social teaching, and his leadership over the years on some of the most challenging issues facing the Church. As the homilist at the funeral Mass said, Bishop Kinney was not afraid to “wade into storms” of all sorts, knowing Jesus would be there to support him and pull him through. 

I enjoyed hearing stories — some poignant, some humorous — from family members, friends and brother priests. I was especially touched by Father Robert Rolfes’ recollection of Bishop Kinney’s final days — how he embraced a crucifix in his hands and spent time alone in prayer. Bishop Kinney, as Father Rolfes said, was faithful to the very end. 

Please turn to pages 16-21 to view a special section commemorating the life and ministry of Bishop Kinney. May he rest in the peace of Christ. 

Sincerely yours in Christ, 

+ Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud

Author: Bishop Donald Kettler

1 comment

I liked the way Bishop Kinney supported Bishop Kettler in serving our diocese……and I like the way Pope Benedict supports Pope Francis…..they model communion for us. We need lots of that today.

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