FAIRBANKS (AP) — An active-duty military chaplain will be the spiritual leader of the nation’s northernmost Catholic diocese.
The Most Rev. Chad Zielinksi was installed as bishop for the Fairbanks Diocese during a three-hour ceremony at the Carlson Center on Monday, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
In his first blessing, he urged parishioners to “keep your heart and mind open because you’ll never know who will teach you.”
Pope Francis last month named the 50-year-old Zielinksi to the position. He had been the active-duty chaplain at Eielson Air Force Base and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.
The Most Rev. Carlo Vigano, the Pope’s representative in the United States, read a mandate from Pope Francis that named Zielinski as bishop. The clergy at the altar kissed the mandate from Francis and showed it to the people in the audience.
Zielinski then received the pastoral staff, ring and the miter, a ceremonial pointed hat worn by high-ranking members of the church, signifying his post as bishop.
He is the sixth bishop for the diocese. The last, Bishop Donald Kettler, was appointed to lead The Diocese of St. Cloud in Minnesota, in September 2013.
Zielinski is a native of Detroit. He attended seminary at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon.