Diocese Welcomes Its New Shepherd
The Diocese of Evansville and the greater Evansville community welcomed Bishop-designate Joseph M. Siegel during an Oct. 18 press conference at St. Benedict Cathedral. His Installation Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m. CST on Dec. 15 at St. Benedict. Evening Prayer is scheduled for Dec. 14 at St. Benedict. The Message will publish more details as they become available.
Only a few hours after Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., announced that Pope Francis had appointed the Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, Ill., to serve as the sixth bishop of our 12-county Catholic community, several hundred people made it to the cathedral for the introductory press conference.
They witnessed a historic moment as Bishop-designate Siegel entered the sanctuary accompanied by Bishop-emeritus Gerald A. Gettelfinger and Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis. Photographers captured the moment as the fourth, fifth and soon-to-be sixth Bishops of Evansville listened to Diocesan Administrator Father Bernie Etienne welcome the crowd.
“It’s good to be with you this morning and join in this joyous celebration,” Father Etienne said, “and to announce the good news that we are no longer without a shepherd.” He then introduced Bishop-designate Siegel, who spoke for approximately 10 minutes. The complete text of his remarks appears in this issue of The Message.
A “media scrum” followed his remarks, as reporters from multiple outlets surrounded the bishop-designate to ask questions. Among them were questions about his plans for the Diocese of Evansville.
“I have no ideas of what needs to be done or what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m just going to listen and learn, and collect the wisdom that’s out there.
“The diocese has wonderful planning with it pastoral plan,” he told the media. “It’s very thorough and a real vision of where the diocese needs to go to continue to grow and prosper, and that’s something I can latch on to and work with.
“I think (Bishop-emeritus Gettelfinger and Archbishop Thompson) have laid a wonderful foundation for me to build on, and for the priests, clergy, staff and people of the diocese to move forward,” he added.
Archbishop Thompson and Bishop-designate Siegel have known each other for some time, and the archbishop gave the media his thoughts on the man who will succeed him as Bishop of Evansville. “He’s a very spiritual man,” Archbishop Thompson said. “He’s a very humble man. He’s a very intelligent man. He’ll be a very dedicated, very effective shepherd.”
Following the media Q&A, Bishop-designate Siegel and his two immediate predecessors remained in the cathedral sanctuary for more than 30 minutes greeting many of those who attended. Among them were many priests of the diocese, both active and retired; women religious from multiple communities who are serving in the diocese; and Catholic lay leaders.
Several leaders of other Evansville faith communities also met the new bishop, including Rabbi Gary Mazo of Temple B’Nai Adath Israel, Rev. Veltri Taylor, pastor of First Ebenezer Baptist Church, Rev. Kevin Fleming, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Mohammad Hussain of the Evansville Islamic Society.
During his remarks to the media, Bishop-designate Siegel noted that he was familiar with Evansville and had been to St. Benedict during his days as a student at St. Meinrad.
“I’m very much looking forward to coming to Southwest Indiana and being a part of this family of faith and this community,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to experiencing the wonderful hospitality, which (Southwest Indiana) is renowned for.”
The Message will be publishing additional stories about Bishop-designate Siegel in the weeks leading up to his Dec. 15 installation. Video and audio-only versions of the full introductory press conference are available now on the diocesan YouTube channel. Visit www.youtube.com and search for Catholic Diocese of Evansville.