Community Leaders Welcome New Bishop
News traveled quickly on Oct. 18 when Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., announced that Pope Francis had appointed Most Rev. Joseph M. Siegel, Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, Ill., as the sixth Bishop of Evansville.
On a morning filled with celebrations and press conferences, people from throughout the Diocese of Evansville gathered to meet Bishop-designate Siegel. He was joined by Bishop-emeritus Gerald A. Gettelfinger, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis and diocesan administrator Rev. Bernard T. Etienne.
“I'm grateful for the care Archbishop Pierre and Pope Francis showed for our diocese in so quickly naming a new shepherd for Evansville,” Rev. Etienne said. “In the short time I spent with Bishop Siegel last week, I found him to be thoughtful, inquisitive, gentle and prayerful. By the questions he asked, it was clearly evident that he has a pastoral heart and a desire to engage deeply with our people. Noticing his stature as he celebrated the Eucharist with the Diocesan Staff this past Wednesday, I couldn't help but think of Bishop Shea, our third bishop.”
“I believe that Bishop Siegel will be a good fit for the Diocese of Evansville,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Obviously, I hold the highest regard for the Diocese of Evansville, which will always have a special place in my heart. Bishop Siegel will be a wonderful diocesan shepherd, a blessing to both the Diocese of Evansville and the Province of Indianapolis. As Bishop Siegel mentioned in his press conference comments, we have been members of the same bishops’ support group for six years. He was in college at St. Meinrad when I was in the school of theology. I know him to be a deeply spiritual, humble, gentle and very intelligent person of great faith. His rural family roots and connectedness to St. Meinrad Seminary will also serve him well in southwest Indiana. I look forward to working with him in the province as well.”
Many of the people gathered were there to see their newly appointed bishop for the first time and were excited for the future of the Evansville Diocese. In attendance were many community leaders, including Rev. Veltri Taylor, Pastor at First Ebenezer Baptist Church in Evansville and the Chaplain of the Deaconess Women’s Hospital.
“It was truly an honor to have been invited to attend such a momentous event,” Rev. Taylor said. “The invitation to join Father Bernie Etienne and others in and of itself, illumines a particular understanding of the commonalities of our faith. The firm embrace of my being, offered particularly by Most Rev. Joseph M. Siegel, is indicative of one who models God's loves, practices the spirit of God's Word and exemplifies thanksgiving for Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Rabbi Gary A. Mazo of Temple Adath B’nai Israel in Evansville joined Rev. Taylor, and other faith and community leaders, in welcoming the new bishop. “It was an honor to attend the news conference announcing the appointment of Bishop Siegel to the Diocese of Evansville,” Rabbi Mazo said. “Bishop Thompson and(Benedictine Father Godfrey) Mullen (Rector of St. Benedict Cathedral) have helped to revitalize strong relationships between the Catholic Church and Evansville’s Jewish community. We look forward to partnering with Bishop Siegel on our One God One Community program as well as other important interfaith efforts in the city.”
Bishop Siegel comes to Evansville from the Diocese of Joliet, located in northern Illinois. Dan Parod, President of the Southwest Indiana Region of St. Vincent, was honored to welcome him to Evansville as a former native of Northern Illinois himself.
“Bishop Siegel and I are both from Northern Illinois, and I shared with him what a wonderful experience my family has had making the Evansville area our new home,” Parod said. “We are blessed to have such a strong Diocese, and I am confident he will be a great leader for us to further impact our community.”
Vicki Eichmiller, Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Evansville Council, echoed Parod’s sentiments, offering her own warm welcome to the diocese.
“The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is excited to welcome Bishop Siegel to Evansville,” Eichmiller said. “I had a few moments to talk with Bishop Siegel about our special mission of serving those in need in our community. Having a new shepherd who is familiar with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul mission is very exciting, and we look forward to working with Bishop Siegel in growing our efforts to serve the poor.”
Archbishop Pierre will install Bishop-designate Siegel on Dec. 15 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville.