FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A new bishop for Fairbanks was installed during a ceremony at the Carlson Center attended by nearly 1,000 people.
Hands were silently laid on the head of Monsignor Donald Kettler Thursday afternoon in a ceremony of succession performed since the days of St. Peter and the Apostles.
As Kettler knelt in front of an altar, the Most Rev. Roger L. Schwietz, archbishop of the Anchorage diocese, initiated the installation rite after intoning, ''Bless this chosen man and make him holy for his sacred duties.''
Eleven other Catholic bishops in attendance silently followed Schwietz's lead and laid their hands on Kettler's head as he was ordained bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks.
Once the South Dakotan was duly anointed with holy oil and invested with the symbols of his new office -- a ring, a miter and simple wooden staff -- he walked through the center aisles blessing the ''people of God,'' his diocesan flock.
Kettler's family, including his 89-year-old mother Marguerite, presented gifts of water, wine and bread for the Eucharist.
The new bishop holds a simple philosophy.
''Faith, hope and love. I think that is what God calls me to be and do,'' he said.
Fellow pilot, the Rev. Richard Case, and the new bishop will take to the air and begin visiting some of the 41 parishes and seven missions in the sparsely populated diocese.
Case has served as diocesan administrator since the death of Bishop Michael Kaniecki in August 2000. Kaniecki was consecrated a bishop in 1984.
Thursday's installation drew a large crowd of visiting clergy from around the state and South Dakota, including the apostolic nuncio to the United States from the Vatican, the most Rev. Gabriel Montalvo, who read the mandate from the Holy See for Kettler's appointment as bishop.
Also on hand was Kettler's diocesan bishop from Sioux Falls, S.D., the most Rev. Robert Carlson. Kettler served for 32 years in the diocese. His most recent assignment was as pastor of Christ the King Church.
''You will find him to be a gentle shepherd with extraordinary talent,'' Carlson said to the audience. ''We shall miss him, especially his prayerful way and joyful spirit.''
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