News: Here's what you need to know for episcopal ordination

September 18, 2019

Bishop-elect William Joensen

Volunteers and diocesan staff are putting the finishing touches on plans for the episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect William Joensen on Friday, Sept. 27.


A crowd of 1,500 to 1,600 is expected for the ordination at St. Francis of Assisi Church, in West Des Moines.

Guests for the ticketed event include clergy from the Archdiocese of Dubuque, the Diocese of Des Moines, visiting bishops, representatives of the diocese’s 80 parishes and friends and family of the bishop-elect.

About 1,000 people can be seated in the worship space, with an overflow room set up to accommodate  others.

                A ticket will be needed to enter the worship center and the overflow room.

Parking and Entry

                There will be some reserved parking spaces in the St. Francis Parish parking lot for bishops, volunteers and media. The rest of the parking areas will be available to the public.

Entrance for the event will be the north and south circle drives of the church. These are also the drop-off sites for elderly and disabled. No cars will be allowed to park in the drop off-lanes.

                Additional parking will be available just south of Ashworth Road at Lutheran Church of Hope, which has generously offered to assist by providing shuttles from its parking lot to St. Francis.


                The ordination Mass will include Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels as the presider with the other two Iowa bishops as co-consecrators, Sioux City Bishop R. Walker Nickless and Davenport Bishop Thomas Zinkula.

                Pope Francis’ representative in the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, will affirm that the Holy Father named Bishop-elect Joensen as the 10th bishop for the Diocese of Des Moines.

                The ordination rite will occur after the homily. Archbishop Jackels will use chrism oil to consecrate the bishop-elect.  The archbishop will give him three signs of a bishop:

n  an episcopal ring, which signifies fidelity;

n  a miter, which signifies the bishop’s resolve to pursue holiness; and

n  a crosier (pastoral staff), which is a reminder of the bishop’s pastoral care for the people of his diocese.


                Whether you have a ticket or not, everyone will be able to watch the ordination and pray as one faith community. Those without tickets will be able to go online and watch the service beginning at 2 p.m. A live broadcast will be carried at, and through Iowa Catholic Radio.

Public events

                There are two opportunities open to everyone to welcome Bishop-elect Joensen to the diocese.

                An evening prayer service, called vespers, will be the night before the ordination. All are welcome to St. Ambrose Cathedral on Sept. 26 for a service beginning at 7 p.m. at which the cathedral’s doors will literally be opened as the diocese welcomes him.

                Immediately following the ordination on Sept. 27, a public reception will be held at the Hy-Vee Ron Pearson Center beginning at 4:30 p.m. 


                The last episcopal ordination celebrated in Des Moines was in 1948, when Bishop Edward Daly became the fourth bishop of the diocese.

Following him, Dubuque Auxiliary Bishop George Biskup was appointed the Des Moines diocese’s fifth bishop and the first native-born Iowan to serve central and southwest Iowa.

It was 51 years ago when the last priest was ordained a bishop to serve the Diocese of Des Moines. Bishop Maurice Dingman, originally from St. Paul, Iowa, celebrated his episcopal ordination in 1968.

                Following Bishop Dingman, three consecutive auxiliary bishops from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis served the Des Moines diocese: Bishop William Bullock, Bishop Emeritus Joseph Charron  C.PP.S., and Bishop Richard Pates.

                Both the last Iowan to serve the Des Moines diocese and newest bishop accentuated their love for their home state.

                “As I look forward to my work in Des Moines, I am reassured by the fact that I am a native son of Iowa with a deep and abiding love for its soil and the souls of its people,” said Bishop Dingman to the press. “That I will remain to travel its hills and its valleys, to admire its crops and its beauty, is a source of inestimable gratitude.” (The Catholic Church in Southwest Iowa, pp.254-255)

                At the recent news conference announcing his appointment, Bishop-elect Joensen said: “I may be fortunate to have lived and studied in different places in the country and even the world, but I love this state and its people with their rootedness in the land and their deep faith, and I’ve always wanted to spend my life here serving others.”