December 14, 2009 // Uncategorized

Cheyenne's new bishop called 'a good pastor' and 'servant leader'

By Kathrine Patton

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CNS) — Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., told Cheyenne Catholics that their new bishop has spent the last 17 years “becoming a good pastor, spiritual director and servant leader.”

He described being a bishop as “a ministry of loving service to be lived out” rather than a role to be played.

Bishop Lynch made the comments in the homily during the ordination and installation Mass for Bishop Paul D, Etienne, who was pastor of St. Paul Parish in Tell City, Ind., in the Indianapolis Archdiocese when he was named to Cheyenne in October.

Bishop Etienne, 50, succeeds Bishop David L. Ricken, named the bishop of Green Bay, Wis., in July 2008.

Nearly 1,500 people gathered at the Cheyenne Civic Center for the Mass. It was held there to accommodate the crowd and because St. Mary ‘s Cathedral is in the process of being restored.

Speaking before the ordination rite, Bishop Lynch said that among the qualities a bishop should have are those of being a good teacher and a steward of God, characteristics noted by St. Paul.

He told the soon-to-be Bishop Etienne that he could meet “the challenge of the Pauline objectives” and the “great expectations” of those in the congregation “if you just remain yourself, comfortable with who you are.”

“Be humble. … Be the same pastor and brother that has led so many of your brother priests from Indianapolis to fly the long distance to hand you over to another church,” said Bishop Lynch, a longtime friend of Cheyenne’s new bishop.

Forty-three priests flew in from Indiana on a chartered flight.

“Be the pastor whom people in all the parishes which you have served who said farewell to you in tears these last few weeks will long to remember,” Bishop Lynch urged the new bishop.

After learning from Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, that Pope Benedict XVI wanted to name him bishop of Cheyenne, the Indiana priest “was floored” and mentioned to his Florida friend all the things he was told he would need, Bishop Lynch said.

Among them was a coat of arms, and he hadn’t a clue what should go on it.

Bishop Lynch said he immediately remembered a time when he called then-Father Etienne on his cell phone years ago, only to hear the sound of a rifle being shot and him saying, “Got to hang up. Bernie and I just shot ourselves a deer.”

The Florida bishop said could not help but tell the newly named bishop that perhaps in one corner of his coat of arms he should have a dead deer and choose as his motto, “Like a deer that once longed for running streams.”

“The three Etienne brothers gave each other hunting rifles for priesthood ordination gifts, and I have been wondering if episcopal ordination warranted something bigger still, like a bazooka,” he said.

Bishop Etienne has two brothers who are priests of the Diocese of Evansville, Ind. One of their sisters is a Benedictine sister at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Ind.

In addressing the congregation, Bishop Lynch said it wouldn’t take long for the church of Cheyenne “to discover how lucky you are.”

“With the Lord, help this man shoulder the yoke of office and help it be lightened for him so that the Gospel promise of today will also be your experience,” he said.

Among the symbols Bishop Etienne chose for his coat of arms are a crest that stands for his new diocese and a river to represent all the rivers that have passed through his life, including the Ohio and the Tiber and Jesus, “the living stream of life.”

At the end of the ceremony, Bishop Etienne acknowledged dignitaries at the Mass, including Archbishops Charles J. Chaput of Denver and Daniel M. Buechlein of Indianapolis; Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles; and Bishop Ricken and Archbishop Sambi.

He thanked Father Michael Carr, who had been diocesan administrator for the past 15 months, and also introduced his family telling them, “I love you.”

Bishop Etienne recalled that in as priest he was told that he could not be all things to all people, but he said, joking, he had discovered while reading about being a bishop, that a bishop is supposed to be exactly that — all things to all people.

“The reason it is possible to be a bishop is because we are called by Christ,” he said.

“This is our journey, to discover where Jesus lives, in the intimate communion of love that is the Trinity,” he said.

“In our journey to discover Christ, we go to prayer, we come together to celebrate the Eucharist, we study his word in sacred Scripture,” he said. “We should not be bashful about asking Jesus in these moments of prayer to show us where he lives with the father, in the communion of love that is the Holy Trinity.”

Established in 1887, the statewide Diocese of Cheyenne is home to more than 53,000 Catholics. It has 36 parishes and 36 missions.

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.