Bishop Kettler: Parting thoughts on the eve of retirement

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

By Bishop Donald Kettler

This is my final column for The Central Minnesota Catholic. On Feb. 14, a new shepherd will be ordained for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

I have been looking forward to retirement for some time. As you know, I first submitted my resignation to Pope Francis on my 75th birthday back in November 2019. That is the age when all bishops must submit their resignations to the Holy Father. It took a while for him to find the right person to be the new bishop, but I believe the wait was well worth it. Bishop-elect Patrick Neary is a well-qualified and holy pastor who will be a good leader. Please give him a warm welcome. He plans to begin visiting our parishes and Area Catholic Communities in the coming months, and I know he looks forward to meeting our people and learning more about our faith life here in Central Minnesota.

While it is time to retire, there is much I will miss about being your bishop. More than anything, I will miss the wonderful and faithful clergy, religious communities and laypeople of this diocese. Some of my favorite memories are of diocesan liturgies, confirmations and other times of prayer in the parishes. I also enjoyed meeting with parishioners at local festivals and other special celebrations.

Bishop Donald Kettler pauses after Mass during the Senior High Youth Rally at St. John’s Abbey Church in 2014. (Dianne Towalski / The Central Minnesota Catholic)

I appreciate all the prayers and support you have given to me and our local Church, especially during challenging times like the COVID pandemic and as our diocese addressed the pain of clergy sexual abuse and bankruptcy. I know that Bishop-elect Neary will continue to make healing a priority for all those who suffered abuse or who have been hurt in other ways by members of the Church.

Thank you for everything you do for the Church and how you witness to the Good News of the Gospel. There is much to be hopeful for as the people of this diocese look to the future. Recently, I shared some of my thoughts on my time here. You can read the interview, in English and Spanish, on pages 24-27 of this edition.

In this final column, I want to offer some parting words of encouragement:

  • Life is filled with both joyful and sad moments, times of celebration and times of struggle. No matter what you face, stay connected to God. Pray to God every day. He loves us so much that he sent his only Son, who died for us. He won’t abandon you.
  • Stay close to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. These are gifts from God that strengthen you and help you to build up the body of Christ around you.
  • Live out the heart of the diocese’s mission statement each and every day: Be Christ’s “heart of mercy, voice of hope, and hands of justice.” Our world needs these Gospel values more than ever.
  • Get involved! There are many opportunities to participate in parish/ACC liturgies, ministries and activities. The health and vitality of our Church depends on your involvement. If you are in a position to invite someone to volunteer or serve, please do so! If someone asks you to get involved, please prayerfully consider their request. Someone is recognizing strengths and talents in you that will benefit the body of Christ.

I am thankful that Pope Francis appointed me to this diocese, and I have worked hard to serve as your bishop. For the times I fell short of your expectations, I ask for your forgiveness. I will be keeping all of you in my daily prayers during my retirement in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Please also continue to pray for me.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Bishop Donald J. Kettler


Farewell Mass with Bishop Kettler

All are invited to a farewell Mass with Bishop Donald Kettler on Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Cathedral of St. Mary. The bishop will celebrate the regular 9:30 a.m. Mass. A reception will follow in the lower church.

“The time has come to say goodbye to our beloved shepherd, Bishop Donald Kettler, who has served the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud with great zeal, devotion and love,” said Bishop-elect Patrick Neary, C.S.C. “He has given his all for love of the Lord and for the souls entrusted to his pastoral care. Please come and honor him as we thank him for his faithful service to us and wish him Godspeed in the journey ahead.”

Author: Bishop Donald Kettler

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