Pope Francis appoints South Dakota priest to head Diocese of Cheyenne

Pope Francis appoints South Dakota priest to head Diocese of Cheyenne

Pope Francis appoints South Dakota priest to head Diocese of Cheyenne

Pope Francis has named Father Steven Biegler, a priest of the Diocese of Rapid City, SD, to head the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wy. Bishop-designate Biegler is pictured in a March 7 photo. (Credit: CNS photo/West River Catholic.)

The former director of apostolic and pastoral formation at the Pontifical North American College, the seminary in Rome which trains priests for the United States, has been appointed Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Since his return from Rome, Bishop-elect Steven Biegler has served in various leadership positions in the Diocese of Rapid City.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pope Francis has named Father Steven Biegler, a priest of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, to head the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Biegler, who turns 58 on March 22, is currently vicar general of his diocese and pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City.

The appointment was announced March 16 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Biegler succeeds then-Bishop Paul D. Etienne, who was named last October to head the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska. Etienne was installed November 9.

The episcopal ordination and installation of Cheyenne’s ninth bishop will take place on June 5.

“The Lord has blessed this diocese abundantly through Father Steve’s priestly ministry for the past 24 years,” said Rapid City Bishop Robert D. Gruss in announcing the appointment to the people of his diocese. “Throughout those years, he has been such an integral part of our presbyterate, having left a lasting impact on his fellow priests.”

Through Biegler’s years of ministry across the Rapid City Diocese, “countless parishioners have grown in their faith and benefited in many other ways. … He will be greatly missed,” Gruss said.

But South Dakota Catholics’ loss “is gain for the Diocese of Cheyenne,” he added. “The people of Cheyenne will receive a faithful and generous shepherd. Today is a day of great joy for all of us but especially for the people of the Diocese of Cheyenne.”

Biegler has been vicar general of the Diocese of Rapid City since 2013. He has been pastor of the cathedral for the last year.

Born March 22, 1959 in Mobridge, South Dakota, he grew up on his family’s ranch near Timber Lake, South Dakota. He is one of 12 children born to Alfred and Mary Biegler. His father and one of his siblings are deceased.

After graduating from Timber Lake High School in 1977, he attended the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City for one year, 1977-1978. During the next eight years, he worked on the family ranch.

He then attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary and St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota, from 1986 to 1989, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. From 1989 to 1993, he attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome; he received a bachelor of sacred theology degree at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He was ordained to the priesthood for the Rapid City Diocese in Timber Lake on July 9, 1993. From 2006 to 2007, he attended the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome, receiving a licentiate in sacred theology.

Biegler’s pastoral assignments after ordination included: Associate pastor, Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, 1993-1994; administrator, Immaculate Conception in Bonesteel, St. Anthony’s in Fairfax, and St. Francis Xavier in Ponca Creek, 1994-1996; and co-pastor at five parishes, including St. Bede in Wakpala, 1996-2003.

From 2003 to 2006, he was director of apostolic and pastoral formation at the Pontifical North American College; from 2006 to 2007, he was assistant to the rector of Casa Santa Maria, also in Rome.

Returning to South Dakota in 2007, he spent the next three years as chaplain to Rapid City Catholic Schools, and at the Newman Center at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. During that time he also served in pastoral ministry at St. Michael Parish in Hermosa.

From 2010 to 2011, he was diocesan administrator after then-Bishop Blase J. Cupich was named bishop of Spokane, Washington, and until Gruss was installed to head the diocese. From 2011 to 2015, he was pastor of Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont.

He has served the diocese as a member of the college of consultors, 1998 to 2003, and as a member of the priest’s council from 2013 until the present. He is a member of Jesus Caritas Fraternity.

The statewide Diocese of Cheyenne covers almost 98,000 square miles. Out of a total population of 584,153 people, 55,336, or about 9.5 percent, are Catholic.

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