The man who has taken the reigns at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis knows he’s got a huge job ahead of him, even though his stay is only temporary.
“It’s been an interesting experience for sure, high energy, it’s intense,” says Acting Archbishop Bernard Hebda.
Hebda was named the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese in mid-June, following the sudden resignation of former Archbishop John Niensted. Nienstedt had come under increasing criticism for how he handled sex abuse allegations against priests. His resignation came just ten days after the Archdiocese was hit with criminal charges for failing to protect children.
The acting Archbishop doesn’t know how long it will take to find a permanent replacement, but he believes it will be a couple months before the search begins.
“I worked in Rome long enough to know that not much gets done in July and August so I think that really there won't be any hard work done in choosing a successor to Archbishop Nienstedt until September.”
While navigating the Archdiocese through two legal issues, the criminal charges and ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, one of the biggest tasks that Hebda will face and another big part of his job will be connecting with members of the church.
“I think we have to always bring them back to the core teachings of our faith and Pope Francis has been really encouraging us to focus on what's the core of what we're doing.”
Rev. Hebda will begin that personal relationship this Sunday, when he leads his first mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul. He hopes to make more trips to parishes across Minnesota as much as time prevents. He still has duties in the Archdiocese of Newark, but plans to begin spending the bulk of his time here later this summer.
“I'm blessed that I'm not recreating or reinventing the wheel, the church has been involved in healing for 2000 years.”
Hebda could be a candidate for Archbishop here, but it’s unlikely, since he’s already been picked as the new Archbishop of Newark, which he’ll take over next year.