New seminary rector recalled to home diocese

| April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Msgr. Thomas Richter, who was slated to assume the role of rector of the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul in June, has been recalled to his home Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Msgr. Thomas Richter, who since January has been preparing to transition to the role of rector at the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, has been recalled to his home Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced April 4.

Archbishop Hebda, who tapped Msgr. Richter for the post last fall to succeed Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, celebrated Mass at the seminary before telling staff and students that Bishop David Kagan has appointed Msgr. Richter to fulfill a pastor role at Queen of Peace in Dickinson, North Dakota.

By responding to Bishop Kagan’s request, Archbishop Hebda noted how Msgr. Richter “gives us that powerful example of priestly obedience, collaborating with our bishops.”

Msgr. Richter, who was in Rome during the announcement, will continue to serve as vice rector until June 15.

“He really has developed a great love for this seminary and most especially for the seminarians here, and was very much looking forward to being rector,” Archbishop Hebda said. He requested prayers for Msgr. Richter and the seminary community.

Archbishop Hebda noted that the seminary’s executive board will select a search committee for the next rector. He encouraged Mass attendees to share names of prospects with Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who will lead the committee and, if necessary, serve as interim rector. Bishop Cozzens had served as an instructor at the seminary before becoming a bishop.

“We want to make sure that you’re going to be loved and cared for, even if there’s an interim rector,” Archbishop Hebda told seminarians after Mass.

Describing the seminary’s work in forming clergy as crucial for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and beyond, the archbishop said the process might take some time and that leaders will look for the “right fit” to carry the seminary forward. He recalled Msgr. Richter’s insight that the gifts that make a good pastor are the same gifts that make a good rector, who ultimately serves as the pastor of the seminary community.

Following Mass, Msgr. Callaghan, who will serve as rector emeritus come June, said the search committee will likely include clergy and lay people. He said at this point, he’s uncertain whether he’ll mentor the new rector once named.

“[Msgr. Richter] was both eager and excited, but as with all of us priests, it’s what the bishop needs — that’s our life — so when we put our hands in the hands of the bishop [upon ordination], we respect obedience,” Msgr. Callaghan said.

In this case, he added, “The local Church has to determine what their needs are and make a sacrifice, and then sometimes they have to regroup, but it all works out. It’s all part of God’s plan.”

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