The Vatican announced today that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the Reverend Lee Piché as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
Bishop-elect Piché replaces the Most Reverend Richard E. Pates, who was installed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines in May of 2008. Since June of 2008, Piché has been the Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General for the Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The ordination is being planned for June 29, the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, at the Saint Paul Cathedral.
“I am honored and humbled by the Holy Father’s confidence in me,” Piché said of his appointment. “This is a great Archdiocese, with many blessed and talented individuals, parishes, and institutions, and with some significant challenges, too. I am grateful to God for calling me to serve in this way. Since receiving this news, I have been praying that God will strengthen me to be faithful in the ministry of bishop.”
“It will be a privilege for me to offer another kind of assistance to Archbishop Nienstedt, whom I have come to admire and respect greatly during my time as Vicar General. He works hard and communicates well, often, and clearly. You always know where you stand with him. He will be a good mentor for me,” Piché stated.
Archbishop John Nienstedt praised the Holy Father’s selection of Bishop-elect Piché, “I have been praying every day, sometimes several times a day, for a good and holy assistant and my prayers have been answered. Bishop-elect Piché is one of the most respected priests in the Archdiocese. He has been a successful pastor of several large parishes and has served with distinction as Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General. I look forward to ministering with him in meeting the pastoral needs of this great and vibrant Archdiocese.”
“This is an exciting time to be involved in ministry in this Archdiocese,” Piché added. “We have just begun a major task of widespread consultation and strategic long-range planning about how we can best use the gifts we have for ministry, with respect to both personnel and material resources. As we clarify our pastoral priorities, we will also look at new ways of being more collaborative with each other across parish boundaries, which in turn should make us more effective in carrying out our mission as Christ’s Church in this time and place.”
“I have watched Archbishop Nienstedt working very hard to keep up with the relentless requests and heavy demands on his time – doing work that was previously done by three bishops – and many of us in the chancery have been praying every day for the arrival of an auxiliary bishop to take some of the load of confirmations and other engagements. I just never expected that those prayers would be answered in exactly this way,” Piché said.
Piché admitted that he has some trepidation about his new role as bishop. “I was just starting to figure out how to be a vicar general, and then this happens,” he said. “I know how much was not getting done in my office; no matter how many hours I worked in a day, there were things left undone. But I do look forward to an expanded sacramental and liturgical ministry, and to getting out into the parishes.”
A native of Minneapolis, Piché attended the Saint Paul Seminary for his theological formation and was ordained a priest in 1984 at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Theology from the Saint Paul Seminary, and a Master of Philosophy degree from Columbia University in New York. He served as associate pastor of the Church of Saint Mark in St. Paul until 1987 and taught undergraduate philosophy at the University of Saint Thomas from 1994 to 1997. Returning to full-time parish ministry in 1999, he served for nearly six years as pastor of the Church of Saint Joseph in West St. Paul, and then until 2008 as pastor of the Church of All Saints in Lakeville. From 2000 to 2008, he served as Chair of the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese. In 2008 he was appointed by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt as Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General. At the same time, he was appointed pastor of the Church of Saint Andrew, located near Como Lake.
Son of LeRoy and Cecilia Piché of New Brighton, MN, he is the eldest of seven children. Three of his four brothers and his two sisters live in the Twin Cities; one brother lives in Fresno, CA. He is uncle to sixteen nephews and five nieces.