ROME — U.S. Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, the papal nuncio to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, announced on his blog Oct. 17 that he would be retiring at the end of the year.
He turned 70 in August, the age at which nuncios can step down; the normal retirement age for bishops is 75.
“The Holy Father and I both think it is time. No real story to tell,” he said in a brief email response to Catholic News Service.
According to his blog, he will be moving from Bern, Switzerland, home to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after his Dec. 31 retirement date.
Describing a “discernment path” for deciding when to retire, Gullickson wrote that the pope’s positive response was the “unquestionable sign.”
But, he wrote, he also has been encouraged in prayer and by “the warm welcome to come home to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from so many quarters, both official and personal.”
He has even bought a house in Sioux Falls, “the city of my birth, baptism (1950), priestly (1976) and episcopal (2004) ordinations.”
After his priestly ordination, he served in the Sioux Falls Diocese for five years before beginning studies at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Vatican school for diplomats, and entering the diplomatic service in 1985.
He served at Vatican nunciatures in Rwanda, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Jerusalem and Germany before St. John Paul II named him an archbishop in 2004 and assigned him as nuncio to Jamaica and 10 other Caribbean nations.
In 2011, he was posted to Kyiv as nuncio to Ukraine, a position he held for more than four years before being transferred to Switzerland.