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Wednesday, 01 July 2015 10:14

Bishop Stephen Reichert, OFM Cap.

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Stephen Reichert came to the Capuchins from a hearty farm family of four boys and three girls. He was the third child of Arnold and Louise Reichert of Leoville, Kansas. His brother Fred and wife are regular volunteers with the Capuchins at the Catholic Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Bishop Steve first got to know the Capuchins at St. Francis Seminary in Victoria, Kansas, where his classmates included Earl Befort and David Gottschalk. When they moved on to St. Fidelis College Seminary in Herman, Pennsylvania, Thaddeus Posey also became a classmate. The four of them joined the Capuchins at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1963 and then studied philosophy in Herman and theology at Capuchin College in Washington, D.C.

Ordained a priest in 1969, young Father Steve left for Papua New Guinea the following year after completing studies in linguistics at Georgetown University and the University of Oklahoma. Linguistic skills he took with him enabled him to translate liturgical and scripture texts into the Angal Enen and Fo'i languages.

Some of Bishop Steve's assignments in PNG have included associate pastor, Det (with care of outstations, including Pomberel), 1970-74; first resident priest at Pombarel 1971-79 (the first pastor there in 1974); superior of Capuchin Friars College and teacher at the Catholic Theological Institute in Bomana, 1979-83; councilor to the Capuchin superior regular 1974-83; superior regular of all Capuchins in PNG, 1983-89; pastor, Tari, 1990-95; bishop of Mendi 1995-2011.

Bishop Steve's love has already extended far beyond the Southern Highland. As president of the country's bishops conference, he has issued many powerful statements promoting the well being of the country and its people.

By the way, missionary blood runs in the Reichert family. Bishop Steve's great, great uncle, Fr. August Reichert, C.PP.S., was one of the first missionaries in northwest Kansas. A native of Nusloch near Heidelberg, Germany, he came to Kansas in 1878 just six months after the first German Capuchins. Steve's grandfather brought his family to Kansas as the first organist and teacher at his brother's parish in New Almelo.

Bishop Steve was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the Archbishop of Madang on the country's northern coast. He was installed there Feb. 2, 2011, by his predecessor, Archbishop William Kurtz, S.V.D.

(Thanks to Fr Blaine Burkey, OFM Cap. for this information - slightly edited.)


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