The Rev. Lee Piché, a Minnesota native considered one of the most respected figures in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was named auxiliary bishop Wednesday. As is customary, the announcement was made by the Vatican at noon (5 a.m. CDT).

Piché, 51, apparently is on the church's fast track. The position, serving as the right-hand man to Archbishop John Nienstedt, is considered a stepping stone to becoming a full bishop. Piché was promoted to moderator of the curia and vicar general just a year ago.

"But I'm not worrying about that [becoming a bishop] right now," he said in an interview. "I'm hoping to be here a good amount of time. There is a lot of work to be done here, and I'm excited about doing it."

He is the son of LeRoy and Cecilia Piché of New Brighton. He attended St. Paul Seminary, was ordained in 1984 and has served at a number of area parishes, including the Church of All Saints in Lakeville. He has a part-time position at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in St. Paul (which he will have to give up).

Being local is going to be an advantage, he said.

"Watching Archbishop Neinstedt [a native of Detroit] come in here and immerse himself in the local community, I couldn't help but notice that he was always needing maps," he said. "I don't need to ask for directions. I know the routes, I know the customs, I know the people."

He will be installed at an ordination and consecration ceremony June 29, but the job's duties are likely to start before that.

"I'm already putting things on my calendar," he said.