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Pope appoints Wisconsin bishop to head statewide Diocese of Boise

Nov 10, 2014

By Catholic News Service — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael P. Driscoll of Boise, Idaho, and appointed Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wisconsin, to succeed him.

Bishop Driscoll, who has headed the statewide diocese since 1999, is 75, the age at which bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope.

Bishop Christensen

CNS photo/Mike Brown, Idaho Catholic Register
Bishop Peter F. Christensen, left, the newly named bishop of Boise, Idaho, sits next to the retiring Boise Bishop Michael P. Driscoll during a Nov. 4 news conference in Boise. Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Driscoll, who is 75 years old, and as his successor appointed Bishop Christensen, 61, who has headed the Diocese of Superior, Wis., since 2007.

Bishop Christensen, 61, has headed the Diocese of Superior since 2007.

The changes were announced Nov. 4 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Christensen will be installed in Boise at a Mass Dec. 17 in St. John Cathedral. Until then, Bishop Driscoll will continue to oversee the daily governance of the diocese.

“This is a wonderful and diverse state with beautiful mountains and prairies, deserts, rivers and green valleys,” the Wisconsin bishop said at a news conference at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Boise.

“Yet nothing reveals the love of God for this community more than the good works and faithfulness of his people,” he continued. “I look forward to seeing the beauty of creation through the holiness and love of Idaho Catholics, and hope that you see God’s love reflected in me in the same way.”

Bishop Driscoll applauded the pope’s choice for Idaho’s new bishop, saying he was “thrilled with the selection of Bishop Christensen.”

“He is a man of energy and prayer and love for the church, and will find in Idaho a community of committed and faithful Catholics willing to serve and follow him in the years ahead. I am also very grateful to Pope Francis for granting my request for retirement,” Bishop Driscoll said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time serving the people and the Catholic Church of Idaho.”

Bishop Christensen was born Dec. 24, 1952, in Pasadena, California. He studied at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California, at the University of Montana in Missoula, at St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis May 25, 1985.

His first assignment was as associate pastor of St. Olaf Parish in Minneapolis. After four years there, he became spiritual director and counselor at St. John Vianney Seminary, serving in that capacity from 1989 to 1992, followed by a seven-year tenure as rector of the seminary. He was pastor of the Nativity of Our Lord Parish in St. Paul from 1999 to 2007.

In June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Superior. His episcopal ordination and installation was in September of that year.

Bishop Driscoll was born Aug. 8, 1939, in Long Beach, California. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles May 1, 1965, and ordained an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, California, March 6, 1990.

St. John Paul II appointed him bishop of Boise City Jan. 19, 1999.

The Boise Diocese has a Catholic population of close to 176,000, which is 11 percent of the total population of the state of about 1.6 million people.

The Superior Diocese covers close to 16,000 square miles; out of a total population of 437,000, about 73,000 people, or roughly 17 percent, are Catholic.