Pope Francis has named Father Patrick Neary, C.S.C., a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud in Central Minnesota.
The announcement was made Dec. 15 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Father Neary succeeds Bishop Donald Kettler, who served as the bishop of St. Cloud for nine years.
Bishop Kettler will serve as apostolic administrator for the diocese until Bishop-elect Neary’s installation and episcopal ordination on Feb. 14 at the Cathedral of St. Mary in St. Cloud.
Bishop-elect Neary, 59, currently serves as pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Portland, Oregon.
“I never expected this invitation, this call, from the Holy Father, from the Church; and I said yes, just trusting in the Lord,” said Bishop-elect Neary at a press conference on Dec. 15 at the Diocese of St. Cloud’s Pastoral Center.
“I was moved by reading the motto of the Diocese of St. Cloud: ‘Heart of Mercy, Voice of Hope, Hands of Justice’,” he said. “We priests of Holy Cross were placed under the patronage of the Sacred Heart by our Blessed founder Basil Moreau, and so that idea of the heart of mercy really resonates with me.”
A native of La Porte, Indiana, Bishop-elect Neary is the oldest of six children. After graduating from La Porte High School in 1981, he entered the undergraduate seminary of the Congregation of the Holy Cross at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he graduated with a bachelor of arts in history in 1985. During his time as an undergraduate, Bishop-elect Neary spent a semester in Mexico City, where he learned Spanish.
After his novitiate year in Colorado Springs, Bishop-elect Neary was then sent to the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, to get his Master of Divinity, which he graduated with in 1990. In 1988, he spent a year practicing Spanish at the congregation’s seminary in Santiago, Chile.
In April 1991, Bishop-elect Neary was ordained a priest, and his first assignment was to St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Arizona, where he served for four years.
He was then assigned to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana where he worked in Campus Ministry and as R.O.T.C chaplain. In 2000, he was appointed assistant rector of Moreau Seminary at Notre Dame, and from 2004 – 2010, he served as rector.
In 2010, Bishop-elect Neary was asked to run the congregation’s seminary in Nairobi, Kenya, spending two years training a new formation team.
The following year, he was elected District Superior of Holy Cross in East Africa, where he spent six years serving in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Bishop-elect Neary finished this role in January of 2018, and in July of 2018, was assigned to be pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Portland, Oregon, where he currently serves.
At the Dec. 15 press conference, attended by Bishop Donald Kettler and diocesan staff, Bishop-elect Neary thanked Bishop Kettler for his welcome. He also expressed his sorrow at leaving his parish in Portland, but his joy at being appointed to serve as bishop of St. Cloud.
He raised several key issues, including the Diocese of St. Cloud’s clergy abuse response, stating he would follow in Bishop Kettler’s footsteps to “remain committed to assist in the healing of all those who have been hurt [by the Church].”
Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, issued a statement Dec.15, saying “Fr. Neary has served extremely well as pastor here in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, and he will be sorely missed… he goes forth from us with our gratitude, support and prayers.”
Bishop-elect Neary said he is excited to be back in the Midwest in Minnesota, and is looking forward to fishing and spending time outdoors.
The Diocese of St. Cloud includes 131 parishes across Central Minnesota and serves a Catholic population of about 125,000 people.