WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pope Francis has named Father Peter M. Muhich, rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth, Minnesota, to be the new bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment in Washington May 12, the day before Bishop-designate Muhich’s 59th birthday.

The Diocese of Rapid City has been without a bishop since July 2019 when Bishop Robert D. Gruss was installed as bishop of Saginaw, Michigan.

The date of Muhich’s episcopal ordination and installation as the ninth bishop of Rapid City has not yet been set.

“It is an honor for Father Muhich and for our diocese that Pope Francis has named him to become the next bishop of Rapid City,” Father James B. Bissonette, diocesan administrator, said in a statement.

He said he has known Muhich since they both entered St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1979.

“Throughout college and graduate seminary and more than 30 years of priestly service, we have remained close friends,” the priest said. “I know him to be a very good person, an exemplary priest and a fine friend. He has many gifts that will help him as a bishop. He is kind and considerate, with a keen mind, leadership qualities and a strong, steady faith.”

The newly named bishop has above all “shown himself to be a caring pastor who leads by example, concerned for his people and the mission of the church,” Bissonette said. “I am happy for him and for the people of the Diocese of Rapid City.

“I have no doubt he will be a shepherd for them after the example of the Good Shepherd. My prayers and the prayers of all the faithful of the Duluth Diocese go with him as he takes up this new responsibility.”

Muhich also is currently pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea and Our Lady of Mercy parishes in Duluth, which were merged in early May.

He was born May 13, 1961, in Eveleth, Minnesota, to Louis and Sally Muhich, the second of seven children. He graduated from St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1983 and continued his studies at the American College of The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, earning a licentiate of sacred theology in 1989.

He was ordained a priest Sept. 29, 1989, for the Duluth Diocese and served parishes in Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Bigfork, Effie, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Proctor, Saginaw and Hibbing, Minnesota, in addition to Duluth.

Muhich also has served on the presbyteral council, the diocesan personnel board, and as a dean and consultor. He has worked with the permanent diaconate formation program, on the Stella Maris Catholic School Board, was spiritual director of the local chapter of the Catholic Medical Association and was diocesan finance officer. In 2012, he led a strategic planning process for the Diocese of Duluth.

The Rapid City Diocese covers 43,000 square miles and has about 24,000 Catholics out of a total population of just over 227,000.