The new bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud told the media and diocese employees at a news conference Friday morning that he is happy to be back in Minnesota.
Donald Kettler of Fairbanks, Alaska, will take over as bishop of the St. Cloud diocese Nov. 7.
Kettler, 68, has been the Fairbanks bishop since 2002. He will replace John F. Kinney, who has served since 1995.
A tall and imposing figure wearing a black suit and large gold crucifix, Kettler said he’s received a warm welcome in St. Cloud and feels a little bit of a sense of coming home.
Kettler has numerous Minnesota ties. He was born in Minneapolis. He graduated from St. John’s University and the seminary at Collegeville. He was a priest in Sioux Falls, S.D., from 1970-79 and served in the Sioux Falls diocese on and off from 1970-2000 working in the diocesan offices and in a number of parishes.
Kettler said he enjoys being a pastor and building relationships with people. During his tenure in Alaska, he traveled to villages to meet with victims of clergy sexual abuse and apologize on behalf of the church.
Kettler said he “learned the value of listening” from Alaskan native people, and he hopes that the church can turn the corner and improve how it deals with clergy abuse.
“Now I hope that the church can be an instrument of healing,” he said.
Kinney, 76, announced his retirement in June 2012 and has continued to serve while the Vatican worked on a replacement. He is in the hospital and did not attend Friday’s news conference.
In a statement read by Vicar General Robert Rolfes, Kinney said he has been anxiously awaiting word of his successor. He called Kettler “a true pastor and a bishop who loves and serves the poor.”
“Our prayers have truly been answered,” Kinney wrote.
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New Bishop Kettler happy to be back in Minnesota
St. Cloud Times
Dave Aeikens and Kirsti Marohn
September 20, 2013