Catholics in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin received word this morning that Pope Benedict XVI has given them a new bishop after being without one for almost eight months. The Vatican announced that the diocese's 10th bishop will be Bishop William P. Callahan, who is currently an auxiliary in Milwaukee.
Responding to the announcement, Bishop Callahan said, “I am honored by the responsibility that Pope Benedict XVI has entrusted to me. I am also saddened at the thought of having to leave my home here in Milwaukee. So many people within the archdiocese have meant so much to me during my time as an associate pastor, pastor and auxiliary bishop.”
Archbishop Jerome Listecki, who was the previous bishop of La Crosse until the Pope sent him to shepherd the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in November 2009, reacted to the news as well.
“I am extremely happy that a wonderful bishop has been appointed to a great diocese. All of us in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, especially this new archbishop, will miss his administrative leadership, his thoughtful insight, and especially his love for the Church. Our prayers and support go with him as he responds to this new call,” Archbishop Listecki remarked.
Milwaukee's other auxiliary bishop, Richard J. Sklba, offered his congratulations to his brother bishop and the faithful in La Crosse. Bishop Sklba said that Bishop Callahan “will bring the warm and faithful heart of a pastor to this new responsibility in the Church. I shall miss his presence in Milwaukee greatly, as I have come to know him as a thoughtful colleague, a hard-working partner and a new friend whose gifts I treasure.”
Bishop Callahan was born in Chicago, Ill. on June 17, 1950. He is the youngest of four children who were born to Ellen and William Callahan, both deceased.
Bishop Callahan first took vows as a Conventual Franciscan on August 11, 1970 at the age of 20. He was ordained a priest seven years later on April 30, 1977.
On October 30, 2007 Bishop Callahan made history by becoming the first Conventual Franciscan to be named a bishop in the United States.
Since his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee in 2007, Bishop Callahan has helped lead the faithful of the archdiocese, including a three-month stint as the administrator while the recent transition was made to Archbishop Listecki.
Bishop Callahan will remain an auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee until August 11, 2010—the 40th anniversary of his vows as a Franciscan. On that date, he will be installed as the Bishop of La Crosse at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman.