Roman Catholic Church names 10th Bishop of Duluth – Duluth News Tribune

Following the 2019 passing of its longtime leader and the sudden resignation of its chosen replacement, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth finally expects to have a new bishop in place next month.

The Right Reverend Daniel Felton, longtime pastor of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, has been appointed by Pope Francis to be just the 10th bishop in the 122-year history of the northeast Minnesota diocese.

“I can’t wait to get to the parishes and to the schools,” Felton said at an introductory press conference on Wednesday. “I’m a pastor at heart. It’s what I live to do, it’s what I love to do. The more I can be off the field with our pastors and our lay leaders and all the people who do part of this diocese – this is where I want to be, this is where I want to lead and this is where I want to be the shepherd.”

Felton, 66, has served as vicar general and moderator of the Green Bay Curia since 2014. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay in 1981 by Bishop Aloysius Wycislo.

Felton’s assignments have come throughout northwestern Wisconsin, including Holy Innocents in Manitowoc, St. Raphael the Archangel in Oshkosh, and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Manitowoc. He also served as Director of Affiliate Affairs for the Catholic Telecommunications Network of America.

Bishop-elect Daniel Felton listens to his presentation during a press conference at the Diocese of Duluth Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Felton, of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was announced as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Duluth. (Jed Carlson / [email protected])

Felton’s episcopal ordination and installation as bishop of Duluth has been set for May 20.

“I have only just met Bishop-elect Felton, but I already know that he is a man of faith who has many gifts that he brings to us, and I think I can speak for everyone in the Diocese of Duluth when I say we look forward to getting to know him and getting to know him,” said the Most Reverend James Bissonette, who has led the diocese on an interim basis for the past 16 months.

Felton succeeds the late Bishop Paul Sirba, who died suddenly in December 2019.

The Reverend Michel J. Mulloy was to be ordained and installed as the 10th bishop in Duluth in October, but resigned following an accusation of child sexual abuse in the diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota.

Felton, whose parents Carol and Ken owned a glass retail store, grew up as the oldest of five children in the Green Bay area. He attended St. Edward’s School in Mackville and Appleton West High School.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and psychology from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin; a Master of Divinity from St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota; and a licentiate in sacred theology and a master’s degree in social communications from the Gregorian University in Rome.

Felton is a member of the Diocesan College of Consultants, Presbyterian Council, Advisory Council of Bishops, Staff Council, Diocesan Finance Council, St. Norbert Board of Trustees, and Silver Lake College Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Felton thanked his family, Wisconsin parishioners, fellow church leaders and, most importantly, God for the opportunity to lead the 10-county diocese that includes more than 44,000 Catholics and 71 parishes.

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Reverend Daniel Felton speaks about new opportunities during a news conference at the Diocese of Duluth Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Felton, of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, has been announced to become the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Duluth. (Jed Carlson / [email protected])

“Today I give glory and praise to God for my new family,” he said. “To all of you here in the Diocese of Duluth, you are my family. We are already family in the sense that we are all beloved sons and daughters of the Father. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. We we are all bound together by the divine love of the Holy Spirit.”

Felton’s appointment comes as Catholics celebrate the holy season of Easter. He said he actually learned of his selection from the Vatican over the Palm Sunday weekend, so it was decided to delay announcing his nomination until after most of the festivities.

The new bishop also acknowledged the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. When her father died last May, the family had to hold a funeral with just 10 people and her mother had to move into an assisted living facility which remained closed for many months.

As the pandemic has forced many from the pews each Sunday, Felton said there is now optimism that more parishioners can return. He said churches have also had to be creative in reaching people in their communities and beyond, offering services such as live streaming, which may continue in the future.

“I think it’s a time of great opportunity,” he said. “Every challenge has its blessing that goes with it.”

This story was updated at 5:14 p.m. on April 7 with quotes and additional information from a press conference. It was originally posted at 1:03 p.m. on April 7.

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