Fr. Tim Kitzke has been named the new rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee. (File photo)

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki has appointed Fr. Timothy Kitzke as the new rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Parish, the “Mother Church” of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

He will succeed Bishop Jeffrey R. Haines, who will step down at the end of his second six-year term.

According to Bishop Haines, the approach of this landmark 12 years led him to realize his role as auxiliary bishop has grown over time and he is no longer capable of assuming both roles.

“I need to devote myself fully to my ministry as a bishop,” he wrote in a Dec. 11 bulletin letter. “And I have shared this decision with Archbishop Listecki.”

Fr. Kitzke has served as a positive pastoral presence at parishes downtown, on the east side and near north side since June 1999. Archbishop Listecki said Fr. Kitzke will remain as shared pastor of Old St. Mary, Our Lady of Divine Providence, Ss. Peter and Paul, and Three Holy Women, in addition to the role of Cathedral rector.

To assist Fr. Kitzke with these new responsibilities, an associate pastor will be assigned in June to share in the ministry of the parishes.  The current associate pastor, Fr. Jose Gonzalez, will be leaving the Cathedral in June for another assignment.

“As Fr. Tim knows, as our Mother Church, I want the Cathedral parish to be a model parish for the archdiocese, and I want our central city parishes to be models of pastoral care and evangelization for those in our community who are often underserved,” Archbishop Listecki said.

A priest for 33 years, Fr. Kitzke began serving St. Roman Parish on the south side, followed by Holy Family in Whitefish Bay, and has served the east side for 23 years.

“Normally, we serve up to 12 years at a parish, but in my case, I was assigned new parishes on top of the ones I already had, so that is why I have been here so long,” Fr. Kitzke said. “I very much enjoy serving my beloved family of four.”

While it is a bit overwhelming to become the rector of the Cathedral on top of his other responsibilities, Fr. Kitzke said it is also quite exciting.

“There will be another priest assigned with my current associate Fr. Carlos Londoño, and I will get another associate at the Cathedral,” he said. “I look forward to moving the mission of Jesus Christ forward and am excited to work with this mission-driven reality.”

While his family, friends and parishioners are excited for him, Fr. Kitzke knows it will be a lot of work, but he also explained that he isn’t too concerned, as there are many around him who work very hard.

“People are concerned that I am too busy, but I say it is better to wear out than to rust out,” he said. “They are excited and proud of me. It is a great honor, and I know we will all work together. Most of all, I want others to know that the city is alive and well, and the Church is alive and flourishing.”

Fr. Kitzke believes he is up to the challenge.

“My goal is to make sure it flourishes as a parish. I have been a priest a long time and a pastor for 23 years,” he said. “I will use my experiences to help the people become good Catholics, and in the spirit of unity, realize that one of the downtown church’s mission is to make sure the poor are taken care of. I want to expand some programs to take care of those less fortunate.”

Fr. Kitzke said he is grateful for the opportunities to work with fellow priests and the many wonderful communities in Milwaukee.

“The parishes and parishioners are wonderful, and we will accomplish a lot if we work together, and I thank the archbishop for trusting in this. It is a tall order, but with the grace of God, I will be able to do it,” Fr. Kitzke said. “I have a lot of energy. I am 63 and just beginning my next stage, and looking forward to this next stage of growth. I really want to grow the Church. It is in a wonderful part of the city with a lot of energy and a good structure of cooperation and collaboration. I see it as a great gathering point. I hope that those who are not Catholic will also see this church as a sign of the incarnation of Jesus. The Church is present in the soul of the people and will be for many years to come.”