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Pope picks area native for Superior bishop

Bishop-elect James Powers

After about a year of operating with no bishop, the Catholic Diocese of Superior, which includes Hudson, will soon have a new leader.

Pope Francis has appointed The Very Rev. James Powers to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Superior.

Powers, a Hammond native, is pastor of the parishes St. Joseph, Rice Lake; St. John the Evangelist, Birchwood; Our Lady of Lourdes, Dobie; and Holy Trinity, Haugen.

Powers was elected to serve as administrator for the Diocese of Superior until Pope Francis appointed a new bishop about a year ago after Bishop Peter Christensen was transferred to the Diocese of Boise, Idaho.

Powers is planned to be ordained and installed on Thursday, Feb. 18, according to a news release from the Diocese of Superior.

Powers, 62, grew up on a farm in Hammond, and sold insurance before entering seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1990 by Bishop Raphael M. Fliss, at Immaculate Conception Church, Hammond.

In addition to other appointments around the Diocese of Superior, Powers also served at St. Bridget Catholic Church in River Falls.

Powers was at St. Bridget as a seminary student for about three and a half years, starting in fall of 1986.

He came back and filled in while the current priest was on sabbatical from January to June in 1993. Powers also served as pastor at St. Bridget in 1995 and 1996.

Current St. Bridget pastor the Rev. Gerald Harris said Powers was well liked at St. Bridget's during his time there.

Powers said the call to serve as bishop was a “real shock.”

“I did not ever expect it, and it was very humbling,” he said, “and I just pray that I am the right person at this time.”

“I have great respect for the office (of bishop), and the responsibilities involved and look forward with joy and gratitude as I accept this new role as your shepherd,” Powers said in the statement released by the diocese. “I am pleased to place my life in the service of the diocese in a new way.”

Powers also expressed his gratitude to God, Pope Francis, Bishop Fliss, and Bishop Peter Christensen, as well as all the people of the diocese, ordained and not, who have supported him in his ministry over the past 25 years. 

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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