The Vatican today announced that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Richard E. Pates, current auxiliary bishop of The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa.
Pates succeeds Des Moines Bishop Joseph Charron, who has retired. He will assume his new duties next month and will be installed as Bishop of Des Moines at a Mass to be celebrated in Des Moines on May 29th.
“I am ever so grateful to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for appointing me as the Ninth Bishop of Des Moines,” Pates said today. “It is a welcome privilege to be called to serve such a vibrant, spirited community in America’s heartland. It is a particular honor to succeed Bishop Charron, a good friend and a conscientious shepherd and effective leader.
“At this time,” Pates continued, “I also express profound gratitude for the great joy and opportunity of ministering for most of my priesthood at home in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
“I have been blessed in my association with its outstanding priests and men and women religious, with its remarkably dedicated faithful and with the cherished friendships which have sustained me over the years. In particular, I am grateful to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn. He has been a mentor without peer-one who preaches the Gospel in season and out of season with a heart which, like that of Jesus, has room for all. I am indebted to him and to Coadjutor Archbishop John C. Nienstedt for their friendship and support.”
Flynn, who will soon retire after 12 years as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said, “I am delighted that Bishop Pates has been named by the Holy Father to become ordinary of the Diocese of Des Moines. He is a person of outstanding quality and exemplary administrative ability with a pastoral touch that is sorely needed in the church today. I will miss him, but I send him to the priests, women religious and people of Des Moines with my best wishes and congratulate them for receiving such an outstanding leader.”
Archbishop John Nienstedt, who will succeed Archbishop Flynn next month, stated, “I wish to congratulate the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Des Moines on the appointment of Bishop Richard Pates as their new Ordinary. I assure you that he is a wonderful shepherd who will lead you in the ways of Jesus Christ. Bishop Pates has been a successful pastor and administrator. I have had the good fortune of working with him in the Archdiocese these past ten months. He has a passion for the New Evangelization, having led our archdiocesan wide program on the topic these past four years. He is an approachable and compassionate leader. I truly believe our loss is Des Moines’ gain.”
A native of St. Paul, Pates attended the North American College in Rome for his seminary formation and was ordained a priest in 1968 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He holds a License in Sacred Theology in Dogmatics from the Gregorian University in Rome. He served as associate pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul until 1970 and then spent four years as Vocation Director of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. From 1973 to 1975, he served as Secretary to Archbishop Leo Byrne and as Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese.
He served as Secretary to the Apostolic Delegation (Vatican Representation in the United States) in Washington, D C from 1975 to 1981. In 1979, with the title Reverend Monsignor, he was appointed a chaplain to Pope John Paul II. He served as rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary from 1981 to1987 and also became the Archdiocese’s Vicar for Seminaries. After serving as pastor of the merged south Minneapolis parish, the Church of Our Lady of Peace for eight years, he became founding pastor of the Church of Saint Ambrose of Woodbury a Twin Cities suburb.
In December of 2000, then Monsignor Pates was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, serving the approximately 650,000 Catholics of the Archdiocese. In this capacity, he has served as Vicar General, Vicar for Clergy, Vicar for Youth and Young Adults and Vicar for Evangelization.