WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pope Francis has named Monsignor Gerald L. Vincke, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Grand Blanc, Michigan, as bishop of the Diocese of Salina, Kansas.
Vincke, 53, is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. In 2016, the pope named him a “missionary of mercy.” He was one of more than 1,000 religious-order and diocesan priests who received a special papal mandate to preach and teach about God’s mercy during the 2015-16 Holy Year of Mercy.
His appointment was announced June 13 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States.
The bishop-designate was introduced as the newly appointed bishop of the Salina Diocese just one day after the 19th anniversary of his ordination as a priest.
“I want to thank the Holy Father for his confidence in me,” Vincke said during the June 13 news conference. He will be installed Aug. 22.
Born outside of Saginaw, Michigan, Vincke was the ninth of the 10 children of Fidelis and the late Henry Vincke.
“My dad worked for General Motors, Buick and was also a small-time farmer,” Vincke said. “I used to get up and milk the cows early in the morning. We owned about 130 acres, but we farmed about 500, which is really small.”
“It’s mind-boggling to me how big the scale is here for farmers,” he said, but added, “I’m looking forward to getting on one of these big combines one of these days.”
The most substantial difference between the dioceses is geography. The Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, has about 6,200 square miles, compared to the Salina Diocese’s 26,685 square miles.
“There’s a big, big difference,” Vincke said. “It’s going to be a lot of miles they say, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The bishop-designate was ordained June 12, 1999, at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing by Bishop Carl F. Mengeling, and then was assigned pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from 1999 to 2001, before being asked by his bishop to start a retreat house for youth. He next assignment was director of seminarians and vocation in the Lansing Diocese and then spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he was studying.
Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, the former bishop of Salina who is now bishop of Tucson, Arizona, said he is “overjoyed” to learn of the new appointment.
“Bishop-designate Vincke will soon discover that he has been led to a vibrant diocese with a strong and healthy presbyterate and a Catholic lay faithful strong in their commitment to Christ and his Church,” he said, adding: “My prayers are with him today, along with prayerful gratitude to God for sending the good people of Salina a loving and faithful new shepherd.”
The bishop-designate was born July 9, 1964. His family includes six brothers and three sisters.
He said he is excited to get to know his new diocese.
“I know the western part (of Kansas), I’m looking forward to going out there and meeting all the priests,” he said. “Many have more than one parish. To me, making the time to be present to them … that’s what I hope to do.”
Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing said his diocese is honored one of their priests was selected to be a bishop.
He described the bishop-designate as “a fine priest, a man of deep faith in Jesus Christ and a gentle soul. Our loss is most sincerely their gain.”
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Bonar is editor of The Register, diocesan newspaper of Salina.