Fr. Tim Kitzke was installed by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki as the Rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee, during Mass on Sunday, Aug. 13. (Photos by David Bernacchi)
He’s been on the job since June, but on Sunday, Aug. 13, Fr. Timothy Kitzke was formally installed as the Rector and Pastor of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Acknowledging this significant addition to Fr. Kitzke’s many existing duties — including his role as the Vicar for Urban Ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee — Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki quipped that it would appear Fr. Kitzke “is trying to mark off a takeover of the entire archdiocese.”
“But honestly, I’m not worried about that,” he said, as the crowds seated in the Cathedral congregation laughed. “Because if it’s a takeover in love, the only thing we can be doing is serving our Lord.”
Archbishop Listecki praised Fr. Kitzke as a pastor who has already proven “himself in terms of his love for urban ministry,” noting his ongoing service as the shared pastor of Old St. Mary, Our Lady of Divine Providence, Ss. Peter and Paul, and Three Holy Women Parishes in Milwaukee. Fr. Kitzke will remain pastor of those parishes in addition to becoming the pastor of the Cathedral.
“We needed to have someone who had the tremendous pastoral skills who could reach out, talk, preach and teach those people under his care, and to do so as a loving father,” said the archbishop.
The installation took place after the Archbishop’s homily at the 11 a.m. Mass for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. During the ceremony, the archbishop called forth Fr. Kitzke alongside staff members and parish leadership from the Cathedral community and heard him take the oath of fidelity, wherein Fr. Kitzke promised to “preserve the deposit of faith in its entirety, hand it on faithfully and make it shine forth.”
“Be a loving father, a gentle shepherd and a wise teacher of your people so you may lead them to Christ, who will strengthen all that you do,” Archbishop Listecki told him.
The archbishop also took the opportunity during his homily to acknowledge the leadership of Auxiliary Bishop Jeffrey R. Haines, who preceded Fr. Kitzke as rector of the Cathedral, beginning in 2011. Under Bishop Haines’ care, said the archbishop, the Cathedral’s place as “the mother church of the archdiocese” was truly cemented in the public consciousness.
“Every individual is a member of two churches: A member of the local community from which they come, but also a member of this Cathedral,” he said. “This is the church in which all others participate, in the real sense, for this is the cathedra, the cathedral, the seat of the ordinary of the archdiocese. It is where all of us participate and have a connection … and Bishop Haines helped to achieve that sense in the community that he built during his time as pastor and rector.”
Fr. Kitzke, who was ordained in 1989 and who has served in urban ministry since 1999, is “a person who obviously loves the diversity that the city brings,” said the archbishop.
“It is my hope … that he will take this time and opportunities to integrate the Cathedral into the workings and collaboration of our city, to be able to see the prophetic presence that the Church offers to the urban community, making sure that individuals are included in the sense of reaching out and bringing them into a loving response. I’m confident that this is what Fr. Tim will do, because he’s already proven himself so well in many other areas.”
Addressing the congregation before the blessing and dismissal, Fr. Kitzke pledged that “I really will be the Vicar for Urban Ministry in addition to the pastoring of these five parishes; I give you my word that we will always keep alive the mission of Jesus Christ, especially serving the poor, the lost, the forsaken. Our doors are always open.”
He gratefully acknowledged the many young families present at the Mass and declared the Church’s work of welcoming young people, especially those who profess no faith, is ongoing.
“We really need to work hard in terms of the 20, 30, 40s, the proverbial ‘nones’ who don’t have really any (religious) affiliation. These doors of these churches have to be open in mission and in welcome,” he said. “I welcome the diversity, I welcome the craziness, I welcome everyone, that we celebrate the powerful goodness of the God who becomes flesh and one with us in the sacraments … from the first moment of conception, to the last natural breath, everybody matters in the world.”
He closed by relating the story of a woman he visited in a South Side nursing home early on in his priesthood who sometimes mistook him for Beethoven.
“I would come in and she would go, ‘What are you working on now?’ So I’d say, ‘I’m working on the 10th.’ ‘Oh,’ she goes, ‘let me know when it’s done.’ Everyone, I’m still working on the 10th symphony,” he said. “That’s the image I would like to use here. This is a great symphony. We all bring our own little edge to things and our own gift and our own charism, and everyone is needed in a symphony for the full flowing of beautiful music, and that’s what we’re doing to God’s glory today. As your pastor, as your rector, sometimes I’m going to be a trombone, and sometimes I’m going to be a piccolo. I promise you always, I’ll try my hardest to play my best.”