Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Peter F. Christensen, 61, bishop of the Diocese of Superior since September 2007, as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Boise, Idaho. The appointment was announced Tuesday, Nov. 4, in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States. He succeeds Bishop Michael Driscoll, 75, who retired.
Bishop Christensen, a native of Pasadena, California, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis in 1985. He was serving as a pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, St. Paul, when he was named bishop of Superior in June 2007. Prior to becoming a pastor, he had been spiritual director (1989-1992) and rector (1992-1999) at St. John Vianney College Seminary, St. Paul.
During a Nov. 4 news conference at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Boise, Bishop Christensen said, “This is a wonderful and diverse state with beautiful mountains and prairies, deserts, rivers and green valleys.
“Yet nothing reveals the love of God for this community more than the good works and faithfulness of his people,” he continued. “I look forward to seeing the beauty of creation through the holiness and love of Idaho Catholics, and hope that you see God’s love reflected in me in the same way.”
Bishop Driscoll applauded the pope’s choice for Idaho’s new bishop, saying he was “thrilled with the selection of Bishop Christensen.”
“He is a man of energy and prayer and love for the church, and will find in Idaho a community of committed and faithful Catholics willing to serve and follow him in the years ahead. I am also very grateful to Pope Francis for granting my request for retirement,” Bishop Driscoll said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time serving the people and the Catholic Church of Idaho.”
In a letter to the people of the Diocese of Superior, dated Nov. 4, Bishop Christensen wrote, “It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that I have been appointed the next bishop of Boise, Idaho. The sadness, obviously, comes with having to say so long to you and the wonderful Catholics of the Diocese of Superior. I want you to know how much I have appreciated the opportunity to serve with you in this diocese. You have offered me a sense of belonging and a home that I would not have thought possible prior to being assigned here. Now the joy comes in knowing our Lord has other plans for me, and I trust in time I will feel that same belonging and sense of home that I felt with you.”
According to the Official Catholic Directory, Bishop Christensen is going from a diocese that covers 15,715 square miles to one that covers 83,557 – the entire state of Idaho. The Catholic population in the Superior Diocese is 72,809 or 17 percent of the area’s 437,000 people compared to 175,530 or 11 percent of the nearly 1.6 million people in Idaho. Superior has 104 parishes while Boise has 52, along with 28 missions.
Bishop Christensen will be installed in Boise, Wednesday, Dec. 17.