Bishop Callahan, auxiliary in Milwaukee, named bishop of La Crosse Print E-mail
State News
Friday, Jun. 11, 2010 -- 9:36 AM

Bishop William P. Callahan

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has named Auxiliary Bishop William P. Callahan of Milwaukee as bishop of La Crosse, Wis.

He succeeds Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, who was bishop of La Crosse from 2004 until he was named to the Milwaukee post in November.

The appointment was announced June 11 in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Callahan's installation Mass will be celebrated Aug. 11 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse. He will become the 10th bishop of La Crosse.

In a statement, he said that he is honored by the responsibility the pope has entrusted to him but added that he also is "saddened at the thought of having to leave my home here in Milwaukee.

"So many people within the archdiocese have meant so much to me during my time as an associate pastor, pastor and auxiliary bishop," he said.

"I am extremely happy that a wonderful bishop has been appointed to a great diocese. All of us in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, especially this new archbishop, will miss his administrative leadership, his thoughtful insight, and especially his love for the Church. Our prayers and support go with him as he responds to this new call," said Archbishop Listecki.

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Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba of Milwaukee also congratulated the new La Crosse bishop and the diocese in southwestern Wisconsin.

"He will bring the warm and faithful heart of a pastor to this new responsibility in the church. I shall miss his presence in Milwaukee greatly, as I have come to know him as a thoughtful colleague, a hard-working partner and a new friend whose gifts I treasure," he said.

When he was named an auxiliary bishop for Milwaukee Oct. 30, 2007, he was the first Conventual Franciscan to be named a bishop in the United States, according to the archdiocese. He is a member of his order's St. Bonaventure Province in Chicago.

In April 2009, he was elected administrator of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, after Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan was appointed to head the New York Archdiocese. Archbishop Listecki was named Milwaukee's new archbishop last November and installed Jan. 4.

Since Archbishop Listecki's appointment to Milwaukee, the diocese has been administered by Msgr. Richard Gilles, vicar general and moderator of the curia.

In a video message posted on the La Crosse diocesan website, Msgr. Gilles welcomed Bishop Callahan to the diocese.

Noting that being an auxiliary bishop "comes with its own challenges," the priest said being a diocesan bishop is "a larger task," but he assured Bishop Callahan of La Crosse Catholics' support and "our love and our prayers.

"We welcome and thank you for accepting this challenge in faith," he said. "We know you are a man of great faith and love for the church, and we look forward to working with you and worshipping with you for many years to come."

Bishop Callahan's history

Born June 17, 1950, in Chicago, Bishop Callahan attended St. Mary Minor Seminary in Crystal Lake, Ill., and studied at Junior College in Chicago before being accepted in the St. Bonaventure's novitiate in Lake Forest, Ill., where he continued his formation from 1969 to 1970.

From 1970 to 1973, he studied at Loyola University, Chicago, earning a bachelor's degree in radio and television communications. He earned his master's of divinity degree from St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto in 1976.

Bishop Callahan was ordained to the priesthood on April 30, 1977, by Milwaukee Archbishop William E. Cousins. His first priestly assignment was as associate pastor of the Basilica of St. Josaphat Parish in Milwaukee, from 1977 to 1978.

Then-Father Callahan served as the director of vocations for his religious order from 1978 to 1984; as associate pastor of Holy Family Parish in Peoria, Ill., from 1984 to 1987; and as pastor of Holy Family Parish in Peoria, from 1987 to 1994.

In 1994, he returned to Milwaukee and the St. Josaphat congregation. He was rector and pastor of St. Josaphat Parish until 2005. He then went to serve as spiritual director for the Pontifical North American College in Rome. After he was named an auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee in October of 2007, he remained at the college until just before his Dec. 21 episcopal ordination in the Wisconsin archdiocese.

The youngest of four children, Callahan has two older sisters and one older brother. His parents, Ellen and William Callahan, are deceased.

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