Bishop Pates retires, plans Oct. 1 return to archdiocese

| July 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

Bishop Richard Pates talks about his retirement during a news conference July 18 in Des Moines. COURTESY KELLY MESCHER COLLINS

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and named as his successor Father William Joensen, a priest in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa.

The resignation and appointment were announced July 18 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Pates, 76, submitted his resignation in February 2018 when he turned 75, which is required by canon law. His service in Des Moines will end officially Sept. 27 with the episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Joensen.

He will return to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Oct. 1 where he will reside at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights at the John R. Roach faculty residence. He plans to celebrate Masses at St. Thomas Academy and at Visitation School next door, and help where needed in the archdiocese, including confirmations.

“I look forward to it — pretty exciting, and I’m all set to move,” he said of his return to the archdiocese. “I enjoyed the ministry (in Des Moines). It was a very active ministry, wonderful community, a great diocese. But, I welcome the opportunity to retire and begin a new chapter in my life.”

Bishop Pates came to Des Moines in 2008 after being appointed its ninth bishop by Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to that, he had served in the archdiocese since his ordination to the priesthood in 1968 in Rome. Parishes where he served include St. Ambrose in Woodbury, Our Lady of Peace in Minneapolis and Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul. He also served as rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary from 1981-87. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese in 2001.

He also has served at the national level, as a former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. Since leaving that position has taken a leading role in advocacy for the environment. He also serves on the immigration committee for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and will continue to do so in his retirement. He said he is “very passionate” about ministry to immigrants, and hopes to find ways to serve the immigrant community once he returns to the archdiocese.

“They contribute so much to us,” he said of immigrants. “I think it’s a question of justice that we have to deal with. We have to deal with them humanely and not in a way that is taking children from their parents. That’s not really apropos to who we are as Christians and what we’re about.”

Although he has not had specific conversations with Archbishop Bernard Hebda about possible ministry areas, Bishop Pates looks forward to the chance to serve in the archdiocese. He likes what he has seen under the leadership of Archbishop Hebda.

“He is the man of the hour and he came at the right time,” Bishop Pates said of Archbishop Hebda. “He has led the archdiocese through some very difficult times. … And, he’s just very warm and friendly. I think he’s obviously been a tremendous asset through all of this.”

With 20 cousins in the Twin Cities, Bishop Pates looks forward to the chance to reconnect. He also would like to travel, and has trips planned to Rome and Brussels, Belgium. Then, there’s the hobby that he hopes to give more attention to.

“I’m going to try and see if my golf game can be improved at all,” he said with a laugh. “(But) nobody’s ever asked me for lessons.”

Dave Hrbacek contributed to this story.

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Category: Local News