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Bishop Daniel Felton: Roots and wings as we mobilize to mission

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 

On the occasion of my episcopal ordination, I spoke of the rich history of our diocese and that we need to grab onto the wings of the Holy Spirit so that with divine inspiration we can create our own history for our time. History reveals how God’s purpose and mission for our diocese has been fulfilled and how that same God mission and purpose is unfolding even now. We are called to be a people of both roots and wings. 

Bishop Daniel Felton
Bishop Daniel Felton
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To that end, I read a paper edited by Father Patrick H. Ahern on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee Observance of the Diocese of Duluth. I was surprised (and so were many others when I told them) to learn that in September 1956, Msgr. Laurence A. Glenn, pastor of St. James Parish in Duluth, was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of our diocese! Bishop Thomas A. Welch was the ordinary of the diocese at that time. I asked our diocesan archivist to provide me with any information that we might have on our one and only auxiliary bishop. 

Bishop Laurence Glenn was born in August 1900. He was ordained in 1927 and served as an assistant pastor in Brainerd (1927) and at St. John the Evangelist in Duluth (1928-1947). Imagine back in those days, he was an assistant priest for 19 years before he became a pastor. Today, our newly ordained priests are appointed a pastor after only two to three years of serving as a parochial vicar (assistant pastor). 

Msgr. Glenn was named the pastor at St. James Parish in Duluth (1947-1958) and at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary (1958-1960). He was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Duluth in 1957. However, in 1960, just three years later, he was in installed as the bishop of the Diocese of Crookston. There was an open see in Crookston, because Bishop Schenk, who was their ordinary, was named the bishop of Duluth. It was an episcopal swap of sorts between the two dioceses. Bishop Glenn retired as the Bishop of Crookston in 1970. 

Recently, I was with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who is the nuncio (ambassador) of Pope Francis in the United States. With enthusiasm, I told him that I recently discovered that the Diocese of Duluth used to have an auxiliary bishop! To be honest, he didn’t look as excited as I am to discover this historical golden nugget. I think that Bishop Glenn will remain the one and ONLY auxiliary bishop to serve our diocese! You can’t say that I didn’t try! 

The point is, that as we begin to mobilize to mission, it is important to know our roots — the roots of faith that have been planted not only in our diocese, but also in our families and parishes. Take some time to discover the God purpose and mission that is revealed in the history of your family and parish, so that grabbing on to the wings of the Holy Spirit, we may be a people of both roots and wings. 

Bishop Daniel Felton is the tenth bishop of Duluth