by Anita Draper
SUPERIOR, Wis. (CNS) — The Catholic community of the Diocese of Superior has been “given a leader with a pastor’s heart to shepherd you in the days ahead,” Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki said Feb. 18.
He made the comments in his homily during the ordination Mass and installation of Bishop James P. Powers as Superior’s 11th bishop. He is the first native of the diocese to become its bishop.
The congregation numbered more than 1,000 for the ceremony at Christ the King Cathedral in Superior.
Addressing the new bishop directly, Archbishop Listecki told him to be a “holy bishop” and to “lead by example.”
“Reconciliation and sacrificial love are transformative. I know that you share in every bishop’s sense of inadequacy,” said the archbishop, who ordained Superior’s new shepherd. “We are limited and weak creatures but be not afraid to follow the Lord, take up his cross, and know that he is with you always until the end of time.”
He advised the new bishop how to make difficult decisions, noting that the next few months would be a honeymoon period, “but eventually you will have to make decisions which may not always be welcomed.”
“Remember to make sure that your decisions are made out of love for the faithful entrusted to you knowing that in serving your people you serve the Lord Jesus who called you to feed his sheep,” Archbishop Listecki added.
Bishop Powers, 63, grew up on a farm in Hammond and sold insurance before answering the call to the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in 1990.
Former vicar general for the diocese, he was named bishop of Superior Dec. 15. He had been serving as administrator of the diocese since December 2014, a month after Bishop Peter F. Christensen was named to head the Diocese of Boise, Idaho.
His ordination and installation Mass was attended by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States; 12 bishops; and more than 60 priests and 30 deacons.
Near the conclusion, students from St. Francis Solanus School, in Reserve, drummed, danced and signed an honor song on behalf of the native Ojibwe tribe to thank God for Bishop Powers and ask that he be granted many powers — kindness, wisdom, truth, encouragement and more. After the prayer, a tribal elder greeted the new bishop.
During his first address to the congregation, Bishop Powers thanked them for the outpouring of support and spoke of the need “to hear and take seriously Pope Francis’ call” in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
To the parishioners at St. Joseph in Rice Lake, who welcomed him as an associate pastor following his priestly ordination, and then as their pastor 13 years ago, he said: “What a blessing you have been to me, and I hope and pray that I’ve been somewhat of a blessing to you as well.”
He concluded his remarks with the same words he used to begin his year as diocesan administrator: “Light a candle.”
“Light a candle for me,” he added. “Light a candle for the diocese. For the church and the world, and let us pray that we truly let that light, our Lord, guide and direct each and every one of us.”