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Our loss is their gain!
On Friday, June 27, 2014, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, named Msgr. Steven J. Raica, the chancellor of our diocese, to become the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord. I often tease him that he has the mind of the bishop, such that when I lose my mind I know where to find it! Now what will happen?
Msgr. Raica is a native of the Upper Peninsula, where his mom and only brother still live, so he is now 2 ½ hours closer to his folks. He studied at Michigan State University, thus establishing his connections to the Diocese of Lansing. He became a seminarian for this diocese and studied at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and then St. John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth. He was ordained a priest for Lansing in 1978.
During his education, he loved music and played the organ. His degree from MSU was in mathematics education. He also knows Italian, American Sign Language and, of course, is more than passable in English! He studied in Rome and obtained a doctorate in canon law. This began a real love affair with Italy, its people and food. He is half-Italian and half-Polish. He enjoys traveling to Italy and to Poland whenever he is able to do so. He also headed up the Graduate House of Studies for U.S. priests in Rome, called the Casa Santa Maria, from 1999 to 2005.
To me, however, he is a priest, a friend and a man of good counsel. What is especially valuable is that he challenges me. Even when I don’t like that, I recognize that it is good for me to have that voice, especially since he is always a calming force when many other things seem to be stirred up.
He has also filled in for many priests in parishes when there has been some difficulty. Invariably, the reports are of how gentle, considerate and solid he is in his pastoral abilities.
He has demonstrated his ability to be a keen collaborator. The office of bishop is not one to be sought, and he did not seek it. Many trials and crosses present themselves to the holder of this office, but his ability to engage others and work with them will stand him in good stead.
Msgr. Raica is now the fourth priest of our diocese to become a bishop. Michael Joseph Green was an auxiliary bishop of Lansing before becoming the Bishop of Reno in 1967; he returned to Lansing in 1974 and died here in 1982. James Stephen Sullivan was also an auxiliary bishop of Lansing before becoming the Bishop of Fargo in 1985; he died there in 2006. James Albert Murray became the Bishop of Kalamazoo in 1997 and now lives there as the emeritus bishop.
Msgr. Raica will be ordained a bishop at the cathedral in Gaylord on Thursday, August 28, 2014, the Feast of St. Augustine, the great Bishop of Hippo in Africa. This new bishop will be an intelligent, cultured, pastoral, gentle and faith-filled leader of the Church in the northern Lower Peninsula as their chief shepherd, the presence of the apostles and of Jesus Christ the High Priest. The entire Diocese of Lansing offers him our heartiest congratulations and prayers.
Bishop Earl Boyea is the fifth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lansing