Nickless, who said he had never been in Iowa before, arrived in Sioux City Wednesday afternoon. He spent three hours visiting every church in the city with Monsignor Roger J. Augustine, who has been administering the diocese in the absence of a bishop. Nickless was introduced publicly here Thursday in a news conference at the chancery.
"From today forward, this diocese is my home," he told the priests, staff members and reporters gathered there. "From this day forward, this diocese is my family. Nothing could give me a greater blessing."
In Sioux City, Nickless asked everyone to pray that he will be the kind of bishop God wants him to be and that the church needs. He said he thinks sometimes people in the Midwest don't see how important the church in places like Sioux City is for the whole American Catholic community.
"I think God intends this church to be a witness of what the heart of America really is," he said, "the things that really matter in life: good marriages, strong families, solid Catholic education, a love of neighbor, personal character, and zeal for the common good."
[Monsignor Roger J.] Augustine, 73, [the administrator] will continue to perform all the functions of a bishop, except for consecrating altars and blessing the holy oils, until Nickless is installed. He praised Nickless' 32 years of service in Denver and said his "belief that Catholic schools add much life and vitality to a parish" is a gift to Sioux City, where Catholic schools are important.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver praised Nickless' work there as a pastor, vicar, counselor and friend. "We'll miss him sorely," he said, predicting the people of the Sioux City Diocese "will quickly find in him a great brother and shepherd."
Read the complete article Denver priest is named Sioux City Diocese bishop-elect from the Sioux City Journal.
The bishop-elect's belief in Catholic schools will serve him well, though he arrives at a time when a lot of them have been closed up or consolidated. Where they remain, they form an important part of the Catholic community that they serve.
I don't know whether this is a factor, but western Iowa has a growing immigrant population from Mexico and other places in Latin America. As the article points out, the previous bishop, Daniel DiNardo, was sent from Sioux City to Houston-Galveston down in Texas.