Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Nov. 20, 2000

Bishop Lucker resigns from Diocese

Pope John Paul II has accepted the resignation of Bishop Raymond A. Lucker as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm, Minn.

The diocese is now considered vacant and without a bishop until a new appointment is made by Pope John Paul II.

Bishop Lucker stated, "Pope John Paul II has accepted my resignation as Bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm. After 25 wonderful years, I leave this responsibility with peace in my heart. These years have been exciting and challenging. I am grateful to the priests and pastoral leaders of the diocese for their cooperation and love. I am particularly thankful for the committed and talented diocesan staff who have been my daily co-workers in serving the pastoral leaders and people of the diocese.

"As I move into a new period of ministry, I am interested in research and writing, possibly teaching a course or two in theology, and will be available to help out in parishes. I look forward to giving more time to my large extended family and long- standing friends."

Bishop Lucker has spent a lifetime devoted to renewal movements in the church. Catechetics, evangelization, and theology have been his areas of concentration in training and ministry.

He played a significant leadership role in the development of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and the National Conference of Diocesan Directors, and was one of the founders of the Catechetical Forum, an association of catechetical writers, professors of catechetics, CCD directors, and other catechetical leaders.

Bishop Lucker was a delegate to the International Catechetical Congress in Rome in 1971, an alternate delegate to the synod in 1987, and served on the administrative board of the national conference of Catholic bishops.

Bishop Lucker earned two doctoral degrees; one in sacred theology (S.T.D.) and the other in education (Ph.D.). The most appreciated and valued recognition of his academic career was an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa from the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul. He was recognized for his commitment to religious education, spiritual renewal, pastoral leadership, and his pioneering efforts in promoting equality for women in the church and society.

An author and popular speaker, he has addressed hundreds of national and diocesan conventions, conferences, and symposia on the topics of catechetics, evangelization, laity in church and society, pastoral planning, and spiritual renewal.

Bishop Lucker was appointed to the Diocese of New Ulm Dec. 23, 1975. Prior to that, he was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, beginning with his appointment on July 12, 1971.

Since his appointment as Bishop of New Ulm on Feb. 19, 1976, Bishop Lucker has spoken out and taken positions on several challenging issues. He was the first bishop in the nation to appoint pastoral administrators as leaders of parishes in March, 1981, and over the years, he has taken positions on: peace, economics, rural life and farm legislation, Equal Rights Amendment, nuclear deterrence, military spending, renewal of the church, the importance of Catholic schools, the bishop's role and relationship to the Vatican, the role of women in the church, married clergy, and spiritual renewal.

In his last pastoral letter as Bishop of New Um, Bishop Lucker wrote about five areas of ministry on which he focused his 25 years of service to the people of the diocese. In those five areas, he expressed his commitment to renewal, pastoral planning, service to parishes, development of pastoral leadership, and the proclamation of the Word of God.

He wrote, "I look back . . . remembering the wonderful things that God has done through the people and the pastoral leaders of the diocese."

In a recent media comment about the state of the church at the dawn of a new millennium, Bishop Lucker said, "The church is always in need of reform and renewal. Renewal didn't start with the Second Vatican Council, however. For hundreds of years, the Holy Spirit has been guiding the church toward a deep renewal and reform of its ways of doing things. . . Just look around and see what's going on.

"I see the active participation of people in the Liturgy. I see people involved in spiritual direction. I see people participating in social action with concerns for the earth and for basic human rights. I see countless numbers of people working for justice. I look forward to the next century as we walk with Jesus to bring the message of the Good News of God's love into every facet of our life."

Bishop Lucker will continue to reside at the Catholic Pastoral Center in New Ulm, with plans to move to the Leo C. Byrne Residence, St. Paul, when an opening is available.

According to the precept of the Code of Canon Law, within eight days of the effective date of the bishop's retirement, the Diocesan Board of Consultors must meet and elect a diocesan administrator, a priest of the diocese, who will assume the day-to-day administration of the diocese until the appointment of a new bishop.

During the election period, the Board of Consultors assumes the governance of the diocese. The Board of Consultors of the diocese includes Revs. Dennis C. Labat, George V. Schmit, Robert J. Wyffels, Brian L. Mandel, Steven J. Verhelst, Joseph A. Steinbeisser, and Francis J. Garvey.

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