Bishop's Column

Bishop Conley welcomes Archbishop Aquila to the archdiocese

Here is the address Bishop James D. Conley, apostolic administrator of the Denver Archdiocese, delivered May 29 at the John Paul II Center announcing the appointment of Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila to the archdiocese.

Today, we celebrate the long-awaited news of the appointment of the next archbishop of Denver.  Because the new archbishop is an old friend to so many of us, we are especially joyful today.

In Rome today, at noon (4 a.m. Colorado time), Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Samuel Joseph Aquila of Fargo, N.D., as the next archbishop of Denver.  Archbishop-designate Aquila will be the eighth bishop of Denver, and its fifth archbishop.  He will carry on a legacy of courageous and holy leadership—begun with the ministry of Bishop Joseph Machebuef in 1887. 

Archbishop Aquila was born on Sept. 24, 1950, in Burbank, Calif. He was ordained to the priesthood in Denver on June 5, 1976, and served in parish ministry for 11 years.  In 1990, he earned a Licentiate in Sacramental Theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum San Anselmo in Rome.

As a priest of Denver, Archbishop Aquila served in a variety of leadership positions within the archdiocese. Most notably he served as the first rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary from 1999-2001.
In 2001, he was named coadjutor bishop of Fargo, N.D., and in 2002 he became the bishop of Fargo.  Since that time he has become nationally known for his moral leadership in the Church and for his firm commitment to the gospel of life and the new evangelization.

I first met Archbishop Aquila 23 years ago in 1989.  We were both young priests and graduate students living at the Casa Santa Maria, the North American College graduate house for American priests studying in Rome.

Father Aquila quickly became a friend. I admired his keen intelligence, his decisiveness and his humor.  Most especially I admired his pastoral kindness, his warmth, and the charity with which he communicated Jesus Christ. Last October, we traveled on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, leading Catholics together in the footsteps of Our Lord, praying together and celebrating the Eucharist together. It was a blessed time of fraternal ministry.

Among friends, Archbishop Aquila is a gentle and compassionate man—and Archbishop Aquila is always among friends.  I have long admired him as a man with a heart for Jesus Christ, a man who leads with the loving kindness of God the Father.  His episcopal motto: “Do whatever He tells you,” speaks to his commitment as a disciple of Jesus Christ and devoted son of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Archbishop Aquila will spend today visiting the people of the Archdiocese of Denver.  … (Tomorrow)  he will then return to Fargo until shortly before he is installed as archbishop of Denver at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday, July 18 at 2 p.m.

As we continue to celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, the providence of God and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit have brought Archbishop Aquila home to Denver.  Let us thank God for his return. Please join me in welcoming him and in praying for him. 

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