Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

We Are No Longer Without A Shepherd


With seven words, Diocesan Administrator Father Bernie Etienne began the next chapter of the Diocese of Evansville on Oct. 18 during the introductory press conference for Bishop-designate Joseph M. Siegel at St. Benedict Cathedral.

“We are no longer without a shepherd.”

Seated to Father Etienne’s left (as he faced an almost-full sanctuary) were our Catholic community’s fourth, fifth and soon-to-be-sixth bishops. What a blessed, fantastic, historic moment for a diocese well into its eighth decade.

Bishop-emeritus Gerald A. Gettelfinger, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis and Bishop-designate Siegel represent half of the holy men of God who have led and will lead our 12-county Catholic community since its elevation in 1944.

That being said, we must not diminish the important service Father Etienne – and Monsignor Clinton Hirsch before him (following Bishop Paul F. Liebold’s appointment as Archbishop of Cincinnati) have provided us as Diocesan Administrators. We would not be where we are without their vision and guidance.

This column appears in the issue of The Message dated Oct. 27, 2017. Seven weeks from that date, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., will install Bishop-designate Siegel as our sixth shepherd.

During a phone call just before I started writing this piece, someone I was talking with about needs for the installation said, “Well, it’s not like we’re two weeks out.”

My response? “We will be two weeks out before we know it.” Make no mistake; this is a dynamic, exciting time for our diocese – a powerful time.

Although scores of people had a chance to visit briefly with Bishop-designate Siegel during his Oct. 18 introductory press conference, many more of you did not – and you are wondering what to expect.

What’s he like?

I believe you will find him an easy person to be around – personable, upbeat, intent on listening.
He has made it clear that he will be listening a lot as we move into the new year and the next chapter in our diocese. He stated more than once – in his remarks during the press conference, his Q&A sessions with media after those remarks, and in conversations with others – that he has no set idea or plan. Rather, he will “collect the wisdom that is out there” across our 12 counties moving forward.

From here, I hope you will join me and embrace a simple plan as we move forward toward our new bishop’s installation and the wonderful times ahead. St. Padre Pio recommended it – a plan that, I believe, works without fail. And it is only five words long:

“Just pray and don’t worry.”