WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop John M. LeVoir of New Ulm, Minnesota, due to health reasons. He has headed the diocese since 2008.
The resignation was announced in Washington Aug. 6 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d’affaires at the apostolic nunciature in Washington.
Born in 1946 in Minneapolis, Bishop LeVoir turned 74 Feb. 7 and is just a few months shy of 75, the age at which bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope.
“I want to thank Bishop LeVoir for his personal friendship and support since my arrival in the Diocese of Saint Cloud seven years ago,” Bishop Donald Kettler said in a statement Aug. 6. “I have been inspired by his dedication to the Church, his humbleness, and his care for others.
“I am grateful for his work nationally on behalf of the protection of children and for moving the Diocese of New Ulm through bankruptcy reorganization as a necessary step toward justice and healing for abuse survivors,” he added. “I also appreciate the pastoral planning process he oversaw to help the people and parishes of the diocese plan for the future. I am keeping Bishop LeVoir and the people of the Diocese of New Ulm in my prayers.”
Ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis May 30, 1981, then-Father LeVoir had parish assignments in Stillwater, Minnesota, and in South St. Paul. He was named the fourth bishop of New Ulm July 14, 2008. After his appointment, he made four trips to his new diocese to get to know the priests and the people he would be serving. He was installed Sept. 15, 2008.
Before entering the seminary, Bishop LeVoir, who is a certified public accountant, worked for several years as a public accountant and as an instructor of accounting at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. As a bishop, he has served on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Audit Subcommittee as chairman, 2014-2019, and currently as a member.
In early March 2017, the New Ulm Diocese filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to settle abuse cases filed against the diocese.
Three years later, on March 10 of this year, a U.S. bankruptcy judge gave final approval to a $34 million settlement agreement between 93 victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse and the Diocese of New Ulm, as well as parishes within the diocese.
Claimants voted unanimously to approve the settlement. The judge’s final approval cleared the way for the 93 clergy abuse-survivors to begin receiving compensation under the settlement. The diocese also has committed to 17 child protection protocols.
In a statement, Bishop LeVoir apologized for the harm abuse survivors endured and said he knows the settlement can’t make amends for all that was taken from them.
The bishop said the Catholic Church is a safer place for children and young people today thanks to abuse survivors’ bravery, perseverance and advocacy for changes to protect the vulnerable, and hold abusers and church leaders accountable.
At the time the diocese filed for bankruptcy, Bishop LeVoir said he asked diocesan attorneys to take the action in response to the enactment of the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations on child sexual abuse claims for three years. That three-year window ended May 25, 2016.
Among his writings, Bishop LeVoir is co-author of two books, “Covenant of Love: Pope John Paul II on Sexuality, Marriage and Family in the Modern World” and “Faith for Today: Pope John Paul II’s Catechetical Teachings.” He also is author of the “Image of God” catechetical series.
He has been a member of the episcopal board of advisers for the canonization cause of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen since 2009. He also has served on the USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, 2010-2015, and on the USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, 2011-2016.
In an interview with The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, after his appointment to New Ulm in 2008, he said he felt some apprehension about his new job.
“I tell people I’m nervous,” he said. “The responsibility — that’s the main thing. And, carrying out God’s will as a bishop.”
“As time goes on, God lets you know what you need to know. He doesn’t show you miles down the road, but he shows you the next step,” the newly named bishop added.
During his installation Mass in 2008, Bishop LeVoir continually referred to himself as a humble servant. As he posed with numerous families and groups eager for a pictorial souvenir of the event, his pastoral gifts and ability to connect with people — not to mention his well-documented patience — were clearly evident to the faithful.