Pope taps Joliet auxiliary to head Evansville diocese

by Elise Harris

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Opening Mass for the synod of bishops on the family Oct. 8, 2015. Credit: Mazue/catholicnews.org.uk.

On Wednesday, the Vatican announced that Joseph M. Siegel, until now auxiliary bishop of Joliet, Illinois, will be taking the reins in the diocese of Evansville, Indiana, which has been vacant for several months.

Siegel's appointment was announced in an Oct. 18 communique from the Vatican, and comes just four months after the previous Bishop of Evansville, Charles C. Thompson, was reassigned to Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The youngest of nine children, Seigel was born in Lockport Township July 18, 1963, and attended Catholic school.

After graduating from St. Charles Borromeo High School, he entered the local seminary where he completed his college education, and was eventually sent to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

He completed his theological studies there, also taking courses at the Pontifical Gregorian and Angelicum Universities.

Siegel was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Joliet March 4, 1988, and assigned to the St. Isidore Parish in Bloomingdale. While serving at the parish, he completed a Licentiate degree in Sacred Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein.

Other parish assignments the bishop held include St. Mary Immaculate in Plainfield, St. Mary Nativity in Joliet and the Cathedral of St. Raymond, where he also served as the diocesan Master of Ceremonies. In 2004, Siegel was named pastor of Visitation Parish in Elmhurst.

He served as a member of the diocese's Presbyteral Council for nine years, including three as chairman, and was also appointed to the diocesan Board of Consultors. He also held the role of director of the Continuing Formation for Priests and was a member of the diocesan Vocation Board, the Priest Personnel Board and was the Dean of Eastern Will County.

Within the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Siegel served as a priest-representative on the Executive Committee and was also chairman of the Catholics for Life Department. During the diocesan celebration of the Year of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Congress in Joliet, he chaired the Steering Committee.

Siegel was also a member of the Bishops’ Respect Life Advisory Board, and is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

He was named auxiliary bishop of Joliet by Benedict XVI in 2009, and received his episcopal ordination in January 2010.

A year later, in December 2010, the bishop was named Apostolic Administrator of Joliet when the previous bishop, J. Peter Sartain, was reassigned to the Archdiocese of Seattle. When Joliet's current bishop, R. Daniel Conlon, was appointed in 2011, Siegel was named the diocese's Vicar General.

In addition to English, the bishop also speaks Spanish and Italian. 

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