GRAND ISLAND—Pope Francis has named a new bishop to head the Diocese of Grand Island.
In appointments announced Jan. 14, the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop William J. Dendinger of Grand Island, who turned 75 last year, and named Msgr. Joseph G. Hanefeldt, pastor of Christ the King Church in Omaha, as his successor.
The appointment was announced in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Installation of Bishop-elect Hanefeldt will take place at 2 p.m. March 19 at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Grand Island.
Bishop Dendinger, in introducing Bishop-elect Hanefeldt at a press conference Jan. 14, said he was well suited to the task of shepherding the Grand Island Diocese.
Bishop-elect Hanefeldt was born in Creighton, Neb. and raised on a family farm near Center, Neb., and during his priesthood served as assosicate pastor and pastor of many archdiocesan parishes. For five years he served as spiritual director at North American Seminary in Rome.
“Bishop-elect Hanefeldt is an earnest and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop James Conley of Lincoln. “I am very grateful for his appointment as the eighth Bishop of Grand Island. The Lord will do great things through him in western Nebraska. I look forward to working together with him, and with Archbishop Lucas, to proclaim the Gospel across Nebraska.”
Bishop-elect Hanefeldt addressed those at the press conference, saying he “strived to say yes to all that the Church has asked of me” throughout his priesthood.
“Thus it is with a true desire to serve the Lord that I have accepted this appointment by Pope Francis to be the Bishop of Grand Island.” he said. “I am honored by his confidence in me and humbled that he has entrusted me with this sacred duty. I am deeply grateful that God has called me to a life of priestly ministry.”
Bishop-elect Hanefeldt expressed his gratitude for the support of Archbishop Lucas, for his leadership and holy example. He also said he was thankful that Bishop Dendinger “has been such a loving and caring shepherd for the Diocese of Grand Island” the past 10 years.
“I am delighted to have such a capable mentor.”
“Having been raised in rural Nebraska,” he said, “I am looking forward to spending more time visiting parishes not unlike my home parish in Creighton. Throughout the Diocese of Grand Island I hope to become familiar with the beauty of the land and the diversity of the people who live there.
“I am eager to be united with you in conversation, prayer and service,” he continued. “I am especially eager to meet and become familiar with the priests of Grand Island who so generously serve the local Church. Together with women and men in consecrated life and the dedicated participation of the lay faithful in every parish I pray that we may be firmly united in the service of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
“Please pray for me that, rooted in Christ and built up in him, I may fulfill the ministry that Pope Francis has entrusted to me,” he said.
The Diocese of Grand Island spans more than 40,000 square miles over 28 counties, serving 58,000 Catholics in 49 parishes.