Pope Appoints New Archbishop Of Denver

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Currently Serving In North Dakota

Pope Benedict XVI appointed a new Archbishop of Denver on Tuesday. It's a bishop who was ordained in Denver and served in a parish ministry here for 11 years.

The Holy Father nominated Bishop Samuel J. Aquila to take over the position that was held by Archbishop Charles Chaput before he was assigned to the Philadelphia diocese.

Archbishop-elect Aquila previously served the church as Bishop of Fargo North Dakota (since 2001) and as Apostolic Administrator for the diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota (2005-2006).

"It is a tremendous blessing to be able to return to the particular Church where I was ordained and to a place that I consider home because I lived there the majority of my life and served in the priesthood there," Archbishop Aquila said. "When I left Denver in 2001 to serve the Diocese of Fargo I never imagined that I would return one day as archbishop… yet it is all part of God’s plan."

"Today we celebrate the long-awaited news of the appointment of the next archbishop of Denver," Bishop James D. Conley, apostolic administrator of the archdiocese, said. "Because the new archbishop is an old friend to so many of us, we are especially joyful today."

Aquila will be the eighth bishop and fifth archbishop of Denver following the lineage of Bishop Joseph P. Machebeuf 1860-1889, Bishop Nicholas C. Matz 1889-1917, Bishop John Henry Tihen 1917-1931, Archbishop Urban J. Vehr 1931-1967, Archbishop James V. Casey 1967-1986, Archbishop J. Francis Stafford 1986-1996, and Archbishop Chaput 1997-2011.

"Archbishop-designate Aquila has been a trusted friend for many years," Archbishop Chaput wrote in a statement. "He's a leader of energy, intelligence and fidelity to the Church; a man of kindness, humor, many warm lay friendships and great fraternal love for his priests. His appointment is a ‘coming home’ for one of Colorado's finest sons."

"I very much look forward to returning to Denver to serve as the archbishop," Aquila said. "I realize that many things have changed in the last 11 years, yet the bonds of faith and the bonds of friendship remain because they are founded on Christ."

The news was first reported by 7NEWS Monday night.

Archbishop Aquila Starts Right Away

Tuesday afternoon Archbishop Aquila will tour Guardian Angels Catholic School, the Hispanic pastoral center Centro San Juan Diego, and Catholic Charities’ Samaritan House homeless shelter.

The new Archbishop will lead the 5:30 p.m. mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 1530 Logan St. in Denver. A reception will follow at the refectory building on the campus of the John Paul II Center at 1300 S. Steele St. in Denver.

On Wednesday, Aquila will visit Mount Olivet Cemetery before returning to Fargo. He will be installed as archbishop of Denver at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 2 p.m. July 18.

Bishop Conley will continue to serve as apostolic administrator until Archbishop Aquila’s installation Mass.

Biography Released By Church

Aquila was born on September 24, 1950, in Burbank, California. He was ordained to the priesthood in Denver, Colorado, on June 5, 1976, and served in parish ministry for 11 years.

Aquila holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a master’s degree in theology from St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, and a licentiate in sacramental theology from San Anselmo University in Rome.

He served as Director for the Office of Liturgy and Master of Ceremonies in the Archdiocese of Denver from 1990 until 1995. He served the Archdiocese as Co-director for Continuing Education for Priests, as an advisor to the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy, and as Assistant Secretary for Catholic Education before being named Secretary for Catholic Education, a position he held from 1995 until 1999. He then served as the first Rector of St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver and Chief Executive Officer of Our Lady of the New Advent Theological Institute. In 2000, he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II, receiving the honorary title of Monsignor.

He was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Fargo on June 12, 2001, and his Episcopal Ordination Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo on August 24, 2001. Bishop Aquila succeeded to the See on March 18, 2002, upon the retirement of Bishop James Sullivan. On February 24, 2005, he was named Interim Administrator for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. He served in this position, in addition to serving as the Bishop of Fargo, until Most Rev. Paul J. Swain was ordained as the new bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls on October 26, 2006.

Bishop Aquila serves on the Bishops’ Advisory Council for the Institute for Priestly Formation. He has served as a member of various United States Conference of Catholic Bishops committees.

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