WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Jerome G. Hanus of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, and named Bishop Michael O. Jackels of Wichita, Kan., as his successor.
The pope also appointed Msgr. John Folda, a seminary rector in Nebraska, to be the bishop of Fargo, N.D. He succeeds Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, who was named to head the Denver Archdiocese in May 2012.
The changes were announced April 8 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Hanus, who is a Benedictine, has said he plans to return to life as a monk in Missouri after he leaves Dubuque. He will remain apostolic administrator until his successor’s installation, scheduled for May 30.
The archbishop turns 73 May 26. He said that for health reasons, he submitted his resignation a couple of years earlier than the age — 75 — at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation.
“As many of you know, my health has declined in recent years,” Archbishop Hanus said in a statement, adding that he was “thrilled” to learn the Kansas bishop had been named his successor.
“The Archdiocese of Dubuque needs an archbishop who can devote full energy and attention in providing pastoral leadership,” Archbishop Hanus said.
Both the Wichita Diocese and the Iowa archdiocese “are undergoing massive changes in agriculture, population, diversity and economics,” he continued. “Our new archbishop is no stranger to these challenges which characterize the Midwest. He will bring new energy and insights as we move toward the future.”
Archbishop Hanus, a native of Brainard, Neb., was named coadjutor for Dubuque in 1994 and became archbishop a year later. Prior to that, he was bishop of St. Cloud, Minn., 1987-1994. He was abbot president of Conception Abbey in Missouri from 1984 to 1987.
Archbishop Jackels, 58, has headed the Diocese of Wichita since 2005. A native of Rapid City, S.D., he was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., in 1981. Before being named to the Kansas diocese by Pope John Paul II, he was on the staff of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for eight years.
“It has been a great experience for me to pray and work with the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Wichita, to yoke ourselves together, sharing responsibility to continue the mission of Jesus in his church here,” the new archbishop said in a statement.
“I am conﬁdent that I will be able to say the same about the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of Dubuque,” he added.
Archbishop Jackels said that it was “with no little sadness that I prepare to leave” the Kansas diocese, “but in light of Mary’s response to God’s call to be the mother of the Savior, or of the example of Pope Francis who cheerfully took up a new and demanding ministry, how could I not say ‘yes.’ Let us pray for one another in this time of transition.”
He also acknowledged “with gratitude the labor” of Archbishop Hanus and his predecessor, retired Archbishop Daniel W. Kucera, age 90, who headed the archdiocese for 11 years before he retired in 1995.
“I stand on the shoulders of these hardy laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, including the many priests, religious and lay faithful who worked together with them,” Archbishop Jackels said. “I have much to learn about the history and personality of this local church. I want to take time to watch, listen, ask questions, and become one with you, one of you.”
The 17,403-square-mile Dubuque Archdiocese includes 30 counties. Out of a total population of slightly more than 995,000, 202,601 people, or 20 percent, are Catholic.