Minnesota Catholics receive new shepherd

.- The Catholics in Minneapolis and St. Paul received a gift from Pope Benedict today when the Vatican announced that the Pope has appointed Father Lee Piché as an auxiliary bishop for the more than 850,000 faithful in the area.

Bishop-elect Piché replaces the Most Reverend Richard E. Pates, who was installed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines in May of 2008. The bishop-elect’s ordination will be on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, in St. Paul Cathedral.

"I am honored and humbled by the Holy Father’s confidence in me," Piché said of his appointment. "This is a great Archdiocese, with many blessed and talented individuals, parishes, and institutions, and with some significant challenges, too. I am grateful to God for calling me to serve in this way. Since receiving this news, I have been praying that God will strengthen me to be faithful in the ministry of bishop."

"It will be a privilege for me to offer another kind of assistance to Archbishop Nienstedt, whom I have come to admire and respect greatly during my time as Vicar General. He works hard and communicates well, often, and clearly. You always know where you stand with him. He will be a good mentor for me," Piché stated, according to a press release from the archdiocese.

Archbishop John Nienstedt praised the Holy Father’s selection of Bishop-elect Piché, "I have been praying every day, sometimes several times a day, for a good and holy assistant and my prayers have been answered. Bishop-elect Piché is one of the most respected priests in the Archdiocese. He has been a successful pastor of several large parishes and has served with distinction as Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General. I look forward to ministering with him in meeting the pastoral needs of this great and vibrant Archdiocese."

"I have watched Archbishop Nienstedt working very hard to keep up with the relentless requests and heavy demands on his time – doing work that was previously done by three bishops – and many of us in the chancery have been praying every day for the arrival of an auxiliary bishop to take some of the load of confirmations and other engagements. I just never expected that those prayers would be answered in exactly this way," Piché said.

A native of Minneapolis, Piché attended the Saint Paul Seminary for his theological formation and was ordained a priest in 1984 at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Theology from the Saint Paul Seminary, and a Master of Philosophy degree from Columbia University in New York.

Son of LeRoy and Cecilia Piché of New Brighton, MN, he is the eldest of seven children. Three of his four brothers and his two sisters live in the Twin Cities; one brother lives in Fresno, CA. He is uncle to sixteen nephews and five nieces.

Bishop-elect Piché will help serve 852,000 lay people, 484 priests, 217 permanent deacons and 1,142 religious.

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