In the Heartland With Bishop Pates: Welcome Bishop Joensen

by Diocese of Des Moines | September 18, 2019

Bishop Richard Pates

A heartfelt and warm welcome is extended to Bishop William Joensen as he enters into the role as 10th bishop of Des Moines. 

The center of his anticipated ministry was expressed clearly in his statement on the occasion of the July 18 announcement of his appointment as the chief shepherd of this local church.

“My greatest hope and heart’s desire as a priest, soon to be bishop, is that people have the graced chance to encounter Jesus, to experience his love and mercy (as I certainly have!) and to form a friendship with him through sacred scripture, the life of the sacraments – especially the Eucharist – and through communion we know with one another.  Jesus is the truth I’ve staked my life on . . .”

Such a profession coincides with the very nature of the church as Pope Paul VI emphasized in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi:  The Church Exists to Evangelize.

In the summer of 2017, a combination of 17 diocesan staff and parishioners traveled to Orlando, Florida to participate in the convocation of U.S. Catholic leaders.  Its purpose was to integrate into the American church the mission and vision of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation,  Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel

The outcome produced an excitement to take back to the people of our diocese, a newly found insight that generated hope.  The signs of the times cast a pall over the future:  a precipitous decline of the faith especially among the younger generation; a morality built on relativism; widespread indifference to the unborn, poor, suffering, elderly, migrants, all shunted to the peripheries of society; a paralyzing materialism embedded in profit-centered economics; continuing destructive pressure on an exhausted natural environment; and so many who are saying “no” to God.

Encouraged by the leadership of Pope Francis and the empowering liturgies and presentations of the convocation, our diocesan representatives in response to the signs of the times returned with the vision of The New Moment.  This framework has been gradually shared parish by parish awakening the communities to the hope therein.

The relationship with Jesus that anchors The New Moment is based on the identity attested to by Peter:  “You are the Son of God, you have the words of life.”  It also enjoys the deep, personal commitment of love with the Lord similar to that of the apostles and disciples in their time.  It is developed through prayer and experienced as part of a conscious faith journey.

The earliest followers of Jesus became total disciples.  Their lives were informed and expressed on the basis of the bond, the relationship with their God and brother.  Individually, they came together as church, as the Body of Christ being light and leaven to society.

These disciples of Jesus embraced the vocation of a missionary.  Dedicated successors have followed them and gone to the ends of the earth – responding to the Gospel imperative to “Go” and likewise make disciples.

Today, the destiny of  missionary activity is right at hand as we confront the signs of the times, in our families, our neighborhoods, among our co-workers and in the very fabric of our culture and civil communities.  We “Go” emboldened by sacrificial love, not judgmentalism, confident that in the end good will triumph over evil.

This experience of The New Moment focuses on young adults, oftentimes referred to as “the millennials.”  The signs of the times seemingly concentrate on this particular group especially in terms of long-term fidelity to the faith.  Of course, our ministry is intended for all generations. 

Enter Bishop William Joensen.  He has spent a great portion of his ministry educating and forming young adults with an expressed appreciation on their part.  He has tapped into their thirst for a philosophical understanding of faith as they seek to embrace it in the face of many moral dilemmas especially in the interface of faith and science.

 Our community has been praying fervently for a new bishop for over a year.  With humor, we thought perhaps Pope Francis had lost our address. Not so. The wait has been well worth it. All very much look forward to  Bishop Joensen’s coming and The New Moment that accompanies him.

 The New Moment Prayer takes on added meaning:


O God of all times,

In The New Moment, help us to deepen

our relationship with Jesus as we engage our

calling as His disciples.  May we bravely go out

in witness to the Lord’s compassion and mercy,

in order to touch all generations,

especially the millennials.


Give us insight into your intimate love

and grant us courage to embrace

The New Moment.

We ask this through your Son Jesus Christ.



Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.