By Linda Scherer
As part of a diocesan-wide observance of the Diocese of New Ulm’s 50th anniversary, St. John’s Catholic Church of Darwin will host a week of events Sunday through Thursday, April 5-10.
Every parish and area faith community in the diocese will participate in a mission to take place sometime during Lent.
“It’s a time of spiritual renewal,” commented Fr. Pat Casey.
The mission is an evangelization to renew and invigorate the faith-community and different teams of Redemptorist priests or brothers will preach at each of the parishes.
A ceremony to honor the diocese’s past, present, and future
In November, the diocese held its first of three diocesan ceremonies to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The Mass at St. Anastasia in Hutchinson Nov. 7, was to honor the deceased pastoral leaders and the diocese’s past.
In honor of the diocese’s present, a Mass and picnic lunch at the community center in Redwood Falls is scheduled Sunday, June 22.
The final ceremony will be at the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Marshall Sunday, Nov. 16, at 3:30 p.m.
History of the Diocese of New Ulm
The Diocese of New Ulm was established Nov. 18, 1957 by Pope Pius XII.
The diocese was formed by a division of the Archdiocese of St. Paul.
It is comprised of 15 counties and includes 9,863 square miles.
The counties include: Big Stone, Brown, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Nicollet, Redwood, Renville, Sibley, Swift, and Yellow Medicine.
Pope Pius XII also appointed the first bishop of the newly established Diocese of New Ulm, Msgr. Alphonse Schladweiler, who was ordained a bishop Jan. 29, 1958. He served until his retirement in 1975.
Under Bishop Schladweiler the diocese was organized, a diocesan chancery was constructed, and a new community of diocesan leaders was developed.
Schladweiler participated in the Second Vatican Council in Rome, from 1962 to 1965, and worked to implement its decrees including the introduction of the Mass in English.
Bishop Raymond A. Lucker was appointed the second bishop of the New Ulm Diocese by Pope Paul VI Dec. 23, 1975. He served until he resigned in 2000 for health reasons.
Bishop Lucker pledged to the people his efforts in five major areas: spiritual renewal, strengthening parish life, Catholic education in all its dimensions, rural life, and the mission in Guatemala.
Pope John Paul II named Bishop John C. Nienstedt the third bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm, June 12, 2001.
The development of the area faith community resulted in Bishop Nienstedt’s challenge to focus on strengths of parishes and offer new possibilities and growth rather than focusing on diminishment and loss.
Most of the 80 parishes and two missions in the diocese were grouped into 23 area faith communities. It allowed for the sharing of parish personnel, programs, minstries, and resources.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Nienstedt as the Coadjutor Archibishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis Diocese and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of New Ulm April 24, 2007.
Recently Nienstedt has resigned as administrator of the Diocese of New Ulm and, until a new bishop is appointed Monsignor Douglas Gram was appointed administrator.
In the early 1960s, shortly after the diocese began, there were 40 Catholic elementary schools educating as many as 9,969 students. There were an additional six high schools in the diocese with as many as 1,572 students.
The diocese today reports there are 19 Catholic schools operating in the diocese educating 2,631 students.
In 2005 Archbisohp John C. Nienstedt initiated a diocesan plan for schools. Modeled after the diocesan plan for parishes, the school’s plan calls for all schools to seek ways to collaborate, share services and staff, and work together.
With excellence as its focus, the plan seeks to ensure the future of Catholic schools by reducing costs through meaningful collaboration and elimination of duplicated efforts.
Information for this article was taken from the Prairie Catholic special anniversary edition, November 2007.