WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Father Paul D. Etienne, a pastor in the Indianapolis Archdiocese, as the new bishop of Cheyenne, Wyo.
The appointment was announced Oct. 19 in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-designate Etienne, 50, succeeds Bishop David L. Ricken, who was named the bishop of Green Bay, Wis., in July 2008.
In an Oct. 19 statement, Bishop Ricken said, “While I have never met Father Etienne, his biography seems to have prepared him well for service as the eighth bishop of Cheyenne. I want him to know that he is coming to a diocese with good and faithful people, priests, deacons and religious, and a beautifully scenic and vast territory.”
Bishop-designate Etienne’s episcopal ordination will take place in early December, according to an announcement by the Cheyenne Diocese, although no exact date was given.
Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein of Indianapolis said it was an honor for the priests of the archdiocese to have one of their own named a bishop.
“All the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are proud of Father Etienne,” he said in a statement. He added that the bishop-designate and “all of the people of the Diocese of Cheyenne have our prayers. We are grateful for all that he has done for our archdiocese and we’ll miss him.”
Born June 15, 1959, and one of six children, Bishop-designate Etienne has two brothers, Bernard and Zachary, who are priests for the Diocese of Evansville, Ind. One of his two sisters, Nicolette, is a Benedictine sister at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Ind.
In an interview earlier this year in The Criterion, the Indianapolis archdiocesan newspaper, Bishop-designate Etienne said he believes his parents’ strong faith nurtured his and his siblings’ vocations.
“I think it has told me volumes about the importance of healthy, loving family life,” he said. “Because it was out of that environment of that home that all of us discovered God’s love for us, and discovered our parents’ love for us, and discovered who we are as a person, and developed a self-esteem and courage to be ourselves and know that we were accepted and loved.”
Bishop-designate Etienne was ordained a priest June 27, 1992, for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. His first appointment was as associate pastor at St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis and associate vocation director for the archdiocese. In 1994-95 he attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, receiving his licentiate in spiritual theology.
Upon his return home, Bishop-designate Etienne again served as vocation director, for the Indianapolis Archdiocese, until 1998; was pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, New Albany, Ind., 1998-2007; and vice rector of Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary in Indianapolis, 2007-09.
He was pastor of St. Paul Parish in Tell City, Ind., at the time of his episcopal appointment.
A graduate of Tell City High School, he managed a clothing store there before going to college.
He attended Bellarmine College in Louisville, Ky., and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1986 from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. He also attended the university’s St. John Vianney College Seminary.
From 1988 to 1992 he attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome and received a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University there.
In 1986 and ’87 Bishop-designate Etienne served with the U.S. bishops’ conference as assistant coordinator for papal visits in preparation for Pope John Paul II’s September 1987 trip to the United States.
In a joint statement issued Oct. 19, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley, both of Denver, welcomed Bishop-designate Etienne to the region.
“It is a blend of great people and great beauty, great distances and huge potential,” they said, adding that the bishop-designate’s “youth and energy” will “serve the Catholic community here in the Rocky Mountain West extraordinarily well.”
Established in 1887, the Diocese of Cheyenne is home to more than 53,000 Catholics. It has 36 parishes and 36 missions. There are 52 active priests, 17 retired priests, 22 deacons and 15 sisters.
An Oct. 20 statement from another diocese in the region, the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colo., said the Indiana priest will bring to the Wyoming diocese “a great pastoral sensibility, charismatic personality and humble desire to serve the Lord.”
Msgr. Robert E. Jaeger, Colorado Springs’ vicar general, released the statement on behalf of Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, who was on a pilgrimage in the Holy Land but who was keeping Bishop-designate Etienne “in prayer.”
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