The Very Rev. Daniel Felton was ordained as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth in front of a half-capacity Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary on Thursday.
After Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, read the mandate from Pope Francis addressed to Felton, the new bishop faced an applauding congregation of visible smiles.
"I'm probably one of the luckiest bishops in the United States," Felton said. "Not only to have a great office looking over the lake, but I have a bishop right across the bridge on the other side who's going to give me all kinds of wisdom and all kinds of guidance along the way," referring to Bishop James Powers of the Diocese of Superior.
During his remarks, Felton thanked various people, including those he had not yet met who spent days leading up to the ordination cleaning and preparing the cathedral.
"I'm promising the folks that clean this church, even though I don't know who you are now, by the end of June, I will know who you are," Felton said. "And I will know you by name, to personally say, 'Thank you.'"
He succeeds Bishop Paul Sirba, who died suddenly in December 2019 a decade into his appointment.
Felton, 66, was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay in 1981. He has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia in Green Bay since 2014.
Pope Francis appointed Felton to serve as the new bishop after the former 10th bishop-elect, Rev. Michel Mulloy, resigned following an accusation of sexually abusing a minor in the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota. Mulloy was originally scheduled to be ordained in October 2020.
Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda said that, according to Pope Francis, there are two areas a bishop must excel in, including being a "man of discernment" and "willing to be an apostle of listening."
"Pope Francis said that we need bishops who are capable of hearing the heartbeat of their community and of their priests," Hebda said. "Even at a distance, apostles of listening know how to lend an ear even to what is unpleasant to you. I know you will be blessed here in Duluth, bishop-elect."
The Rev. James B. Bissonette has led the Diocese of Duluth on an interim basis for nearly 18 months.
The 130-year-old Diocese of Duluth includes about 75 parishes in 10 counties across Northeastern Minnesota, as well as other entities, including schools.