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Sister Katarina Schuth, a professor at St. Paul Seminary who has known Nienstedt for years, said he's "a very fine leader and very knowledgeable about how to encourage young men into the priesthood."We're all fond of Flynn, but it's exciting whenever a new leader comes in," Schuth said. "Personally, I hope to hear him speak out on how we can bring peace to this troubled world."
Bishop Peter Rogness of the St. Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said he hopes Nienstedt will share Flynn's focus on social-justice issues.
"Lutherans and Catholics have a healthy relationship in the Twin Cities around those issues," Rogness said.
In the mirror, 'a parish priest'
Nienstedt grew up in a Detroit family of six children and was ordained in 1974 at Sacred Heart Church in Dearborn, Mich., after studies at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary and in Rome.
He served several parishes in Detroit and as president of Sacred Heart Seminary. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Detroit in 1996, where he was praised for improving Catholic-Jewish ties, and bishop of Dearborn and other Michigan communities later that year. Nienstedt was named bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm in 2001.
"When I get up in the morning and look in the mirror, I see a parish priest," he said. "That is how I hope to lead."
It'll be some time before Catholics in the pews have a sense of what that means.
"Our people have appreciated Archbishop Flynn's visits and personal warmth, and we hope to see Bishop Nienstedt out here, too," said the Rev. Michael Van Sloun at St. Stephen's in Anoka. "We have a large umbrella here, with many spiritualities that feel at home. But we all wish for a good, strong leader, a firm hand at the wheel."
Pamela Miller 612-673-4290 firstname.lastname@example.org