On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Bishop Paul D. Etienne (pronounced a-ten) was ordained a bishop and installed as the eighth bishop of of the Diocese of Cheyenne, filling a seat that had been left vacant since July of 2008.
“The spirit during the celebration was one of excitement and joy,” said Fr. Gary Ruzicka, Master of Ceremonies, who told CNA that he estimated close to 1,200 people attended the installation, despite severe snowstorms and road blockages.
The installation took place at Cheyenne's Civic Center and was attended by the Most Reverend Pietro Sambi, the representative of Pope Benedict XVI in the U.S. Also in attendance were Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis and Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay.
“We haven't had a bishop for 15 months now and as a result, the anticipation has been increasing month by month in the hopes that eventually we would have a bishop,” Fr. Ruzicka said. When the Holy Father appointed him back in October, he recalled, “we were really excited.”
Fr. Ruzicka told CNA that the new bishop is “a young man” full of “zeal” who has an “enthusiasm” about him and shares the many interests of the people of Wyoming such as the outdoors, nature, hunting, fishing and hiking. Bishop Etienne may be “a perfect fit,” remarked Fr. Ruzicka.
Attendants of the ceremony were able to meet Bishop Etienne at a reception following his installation yesterday and “were very, very pleased at the choice of the Holy Father,” said Fr. Ruzicka. “He is easy-going, approachable and easy to talk to.”
Bishop Etienne, 50, grew up as one of six children to parents who have been married over 50 years. Two of his brothers are priests and his sister is a religious.
He graduated from the University of St. Thomas / St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. with a degree in Business Administration before studying at the North American College in Rome and receiving a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Following his priestly ordination in 1992 for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Bishop Etienne worked as an associate pastor and assistant vocation director before traveling to Rome to receive his License in Spiritual Theology.
The Dec. 9 installation of Bishop Etienne held “a spirit of joy, excitement” and “a lot of enthusiasm for the new bishop,” Fr. Ruzicka revealed.