Bishop-elect Michel Mulloy wrote the following for the diocesan newspaper of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, for the ordination of Bishop Peter Muhich, who came from the Diocese of Duluth.
|Bishop Peter Muhich|
The sede is not vacante any more. In other, English words, the seat is not vacant. Hurray! Sound the trumpets. I have been excited about Bishop Peter Muhich coming to Rapid City since I first heard the good news from our Papal Nuncio. The United States and Vatican City have a diplomatic relationship, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre is the ambassador to the United States from Vatican City. He handles any state matters between our countries, as well as church affairs, including the notification of future bishops and their dioceses.
I was excited, not just because we were receiving a new bishop, but also because I have known Father Muhich for some years. We have attended training seminars together and in January spent a week in Rome during the ad limina visit for our region. I know him to be a man of deep and steady faith. He also has a long history of pastoral experience in a variety of parishes. I know he is the right fit for our diocese.
That was confirmed when I called him. I sensed right away his calm acceptance of this new ministry. His unhesitating response to the statement, “The Holy Father has selected you to be the Bishop of Rapid City,” was reassuring to me. I knew he wanted to come, and I knew he was ready for this challenge. After his announcement, that initial experience was confirmed during further conversation with the administrator of the Duluth Diocese, who was and is a personal friend of our new bishop, as well as other bishops in our region.
It is important to realize that our new bishop is in fact, new. He has never been in this role. Although his years of pastoral experience qualify him for this assignment, he has not managed a diocese before. I only mention this so that all of you — priests, deacons, staff, and laity — will allow him the time he needs to come to know our diocese and the many facets of being a bishop. Allow him to explore. Take the time to share with him all that is wonderful and good about our diocese. Give him time to come to love our way of life and the unique brand of Catholicism that we live and celebrate. Because I have led you for a year and have worked among you for many more years, I know that Bishop Muhich will love and cherish all the people of the diocese. That is just what happens when we take the time to listen, to understand, and to seek unity in our lives together.
Jesus gave us an example of service in washing the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus asked us to do the same for each other. I know Bishop Muhich wants to serve you and be attentive to you. Please take his motto and apply it to your response to him. See in him Jesus washing your feet and allow him to do that. Then, offer back to him your service. Wash his feet, too. In this way you will all grow as disciples and my joy at this moment will become your joy, multiplied in each of you throughout the Diocese of Rapid City, joined together with your new shepherd as Christ’s body, the church.
By Laurie Hallstrom
West River Catholic
Father Tony Wroblewski has known Bishop Peter Muhich for over 25 years. When Father Wroblewski was first ordained in 1995, he was in a religious community and assigned to work in the Diocese of Duluth. “I actually met him as a transitional deacon in Duluth on New Year’s Day. An older priest that was a friend of his held a party to which I was invited. I ended up being friends with him and a few other priests who were of the same generation and age. We all got along very well. Though after three years I was assigned outside of the diocese, I came back as a pastor in 2001. Our friendship picked up where we left off, and Bishop Muhich, Father Jim Bissonette, and I have been the three from that original group who have remained best of friends,” he said.
|Bishop Peter Muhich is seated in the cathedra (chair), which symbolizes the place from which he will lead the Diocese of Rapid City. (Photo by Laurie Hallstrom / West River Catholic)|
Bishop Muhich and Father Wroblewski have pastored a couple of the largest parish clusters in the Diocese of Duluth. Those were in a rural area, meaning lots of driving. The two were asked to chair or be on a variety of committees. Most recently, before Bishop Paul Sirba died, they were deans of two of the five deaneries in the diocese, which also meant they served together on the Personnel Board. Both have been on the College of Consultors, too.
“Bishop Muhich is probably the most organized person I know. Since I will be succeeding him at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, I am most grateful for that. He is always well–spoken and respectful in any public setting,” commented Father Wroblewski.
“As friends, he is very enjoyable to be around. He has a great sense of humor. We have had many, many good discussions. He knows what he believes, and he will always defend it, which is great for a bishop!” he added, “His parishioners and others he has worked with him love him, and I will miss having him around.”
Father Wroblewski was asked what gifts the new bishop would bring to the Diocese of Rapid City. “He is a good listener. He is able to take a situation and assess it quickly and correctly. He has an ability to relate well with a variety of different people, from those who have ‘means’ in the Cathedral parish to the poor who find themselves at the downtown parish where he was pastor as well. Finally, he has had some major building projects, and he knows administration. He will be a great asset to your diocese.”
Recalling the many good times the three priests have shared, Father Wroblewski recalled they would get together on Sunday evenings and Mondays. “This would include making a meal together. But as I have said, he is known for order, and he likes cleanliness. Well, he would sometimes inspect our cleaning, like wine glasses. Once, he made us rewash the wine glasses. So, when he left the room, I took them, and pulled the glasses already in the cabinet forward, and put the recently washed ones in back. That way if he inspected them, he would be inspecting the ones in front which he already washed himself some other time. We never told him what we did.”
By West River Catholic
Father Jim Bissonette is the diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Duluth. He met Bishop Peter Muhich in the fall of 1978.
“We traveled with our diocesan Vocation Director to St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul to take part in a ‘live-in’ weekend so we could see what life was like at the seminary. We were both from small towns in northeastern Minnesota. I was from Babbitt, and he was from Eveleth. We struck up a friendship, and the following year we entered St. John Vianney Seminary together. Our friendship continued through theology studies overseas, Bishop-elect Peter in Leuven, Belgium, and me in Rome, Italy. Both of us were ordained for the Diocese of Duluth. Our friendship has continued to the present day.”
|From left, Father James Bissonette, diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Duluth, Bishop Peter Muhich, and Bishop-elect Michel Mulloy, who served as diocesan administrator of the Diocese of Rapid City and will be ordained bishop of the Duluth Diocese Oct. 1, listen to the papal mandate at Bishop Muhich’s ordination in Rapid City. (Photo by Laurie Hallstrom / West River Catholic)|
The two priests were associate priests and first time pastors at the same time. “I became involved in church law through the chancery and Tribunal while Bishop Peter assisted in the areas of catechesis, deacon formation, and most importantly, Diocesan Strategic Planning,” said Father Bissonette.
Bishop Peter has always been a man with a strong faith in Jesus Christ and the church, according to Father Bissonette. “He is thoughtful, kind, and a very good friend. He is a fine priest. We have similar interests and enjoy each other’s company, and many a time we have traveled together, visited friends, and shared meals,” he said. “We have enjoyed learning about other cultures and appreciating the lakes, the trees, and the outdoors in our own neck of the woods.”
Among the pastoral gifts Bishop Muhich will bring to his ministry here, Father Bissonette said, “He always tries to put Christ first, front and center. Not in a showy way, but as the source of grace for his and our lives. He is intelligent, logical, straight forward, and consistent. He has a wealth of pastoral experience, and he is a good administrator. He is compassionate and encouraging in the ways of the faith.”
It is hard to see his longtime friend leaving Duluth, “I will miss Bishop Peter as a brother priest and a friend, but I know that this is what God wants him to do, so I am happy for the Diocese of Rapid City. You have a good man for your next bishop, and I also know that he is very much looking forward to getting to know the clergy and people of his new diocese. May you be a blessing for each other.”