The Most Rev. James P. Powers, head of the Diocese of Superior in Wisconsin, has agreed to serve as Episcopal Advisor to the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute, according to an announcement from the institute this week.
Bishop Powers replaces the Most Reverend Francis J. Kane, retired Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. “Bishop Kane has served us from our inception, and after he retired he graciously agreed to stay on as our Episcopal Advisor until we could find another bishop to serve in that capacity,” said Dr. Owen Phelps, Executive Director of the Yeshua Institute.
“We are grateful for his service to us both before and after his retirement, and for his patience in continuing to serve until Bishop Powers stepped up and agreed to fill the post.
Bishop Powers’ early years
Bishop Powers was born Feb. 6, 1953, in Baldwin, WI. He is one of seven children born to Thomas and Frances Roberta (Bobbie) Powers, and was raised on a farm in rural Hammond, WI.
As a young man the bishop attended Hammond Grade School and St. Croix Central High School. During his college years, he attended Holy Redeemer College, the College of St. Thomas and St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, MN, earning his B.A. in theology. He also earned a Master of Divinity from St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul. He later attended St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, from 1996-98 where he completed his canon law degree (J.C.L.).
Ordained in 1990
He was ordained to the priesthood on May 20, 1990, at Immaculate Conception Church in Hammond by Bishop Raphael M. Fliss. He was appointed associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Rice Lake, and then temporary parochial administrator of St. Bridget in River Falls.
Later he served as parochial administrator of St. John the Baptist, Webster; Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Crescent Lake; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Danbury, before returning to St. Bridget in River Falls, where he served for two years as pastor.
After spending the following two years at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, where he received his JCL Degree, he returned to the Diocese of Superior and was appointed pastor of St. Pius X, Solon Springs; St. Mary, Minong; and St. Anthony of Padua, Gordon, as well as Adjutant Judicial Vicar of the diocese.
Five years later he returned to St. Joseph in Rice Lake. After serving St. Joseph as pastor for 11 years, the parish was clustered with Our Lady of Lourdes in Dobie, St. John the Evangelist in Birchwood, and Holy Trinity in Haugen. He continued as pastor of this four-parish cluster for another year and a half.
Other roles in diocese
In addition to pastoral ministry in the parishes, he also filled the role as Spiritual Director for Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) and served on the St. Pius Priest Fund Board of Directors, the Priest Personnel Placement Board and the Presbyteral Council. On June 23, 1998, he was appointed Adjutant Judicial Vicar Vice Officialis by Bishop Raphael M. Fliss. On Nov. 9, 2010, he was named Vicar General by Bishop Peter F. Christensen.
He was elected Diocesan Administrator on Dec. 19, 2014, upon Bishop Peter Christensen’s transfer to the Diocese of Boise in Idaho.
Nearly a year later, on Dec. 15, 2015, he was named the 11th Bishop of Superior.
His episcopal ordination took place on Feb. 18, 2016, at Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki as Principal Consecrator and Bishop Peter F. Christensen and Bishop Paul D. Etienne and Co-consecrators.
For his motto, Bishop Powers adopted the Latin phrase; “DEDUC ME, DOMINE, LUCE TUA.” This phrase, a slight variant of the 85th Psalm, declares, “Lead me, Lord, by Your light” – which expresses his deep conviction that “it is only by surrendering to God’s will that we can achieve our appointed tasks in life.”
‘A real pleasure’
“About six years ago Father David Beauvais, a member of our Board of Directors, and I met Bishop Powers when he was Vicar General of the Superior Diocese and we were invited by Bishop Christensen to present a program to the priests of his diocese,” Dr. Phelps explained.
“We have stayed in touch occasionally since then and I have done some work for the Superior Diocese, where my wife and I make our home for about four months of the year,” Phelps explained. “He is such a gracious and unassuming man, and it’s a real pleasure to anticipate working more closely with him in the years ahead.”