Bishop Gettelfinger named St. Meinrad Distinguished Alumnus

By Sean Gallagher

Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger, the spiritual leader of the Evansville Diocese and a former chancellor and vicar general of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, received Saint Meinrad School of Theology’s Distinguished Alumnus Award on Aug. 8 at the southern Indiana seminary.

“It goes without saying that for one to be singled out to receive that award is a great affirmation for one and, for two, it’s also an encouragement to continue to do what you’ve been doing …,” said Bishop Gettelfinger in a recent telephone interview.

He began his priestly formation at Saint Meinrad in 1949 as a high school freshman and completed it 12 years later when he was ordained as a priest of the archdiocese.

During those years, Saint Meinrad was truly a home for Bishop Gettelfinger and his fellow seminarians.

“We went there in September and came home at Christmas, and then went back in January and came home in June,” he said. “It was home for 12 years.”

In addition to completing his coursework, Bishop Gettelfinger got involved in many extracurricular activities, including being a stage manager for the seminary’s theater and helping to organize athletic activities.

Although grateful for the award, Bishop Gettelfinger said that it reflected as much on the impact that the monks of Saint Meinrad, who formed him for the priesthood, had on him and the other seminarians who were there with him.

“We invested some effort on our part,” he said. “But they invested their very being on our behalf.”

Bishop Gettelfinger also credited the support he received from three archbishops of Indianapolis for helping him serve in such a distinguished manner.

During his 28 years in the archdiocese, he served as a high school instructor, guidance counselor, principal, schools superintendent, chancellor and vicar general.

“I always had the backup knowing that I had the support of Archbishop [Paul C.] Schulte first, Archbishop [George J.] Biskup and then Archbishop [Edward T.] O’Meara,” he said. “They were willing to give me the chance to do things because they began to recognize that I would do the best I could.”

Bishop Gettelfinger served in the archdiocese from his ordination in 1961 until his appointment by Pope John Paul II as the Bishop of Evansville in 1989. †


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