Bishop Michael Pfeifer Looks Toward Retirement, Calls for New Energy

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by Lauren Lopez

Nov 21, 2013

Bishop Michael Pfeifer and Pope John Paul II during a visit to Rome (Photo Courtesy of Catholic Diocese of San Angelo)
Bishop Michael Pfeifer and Pope John Paul II during a visit to Rome (Photo Courtesy of Catholic Diocese of San Angelo)
In Brief: 
  • Bishop Michael Pfeifer looks ahead towards retirement
  • The Bishop reflects on his past 28 years in San Angelo
  • After the many years he has served, Pfeifer said San Angelo is ready for new energy

John Paul II, Benedict XIV, Francis I. There’s one man in San Angelo that has met all three of these popes. As his forthcoming retirement approaches, Bishop Michael Pfeifer reflects on his 28 years of service as bishop of the Catholic Diocese in San Angelo.

In July of 1985, Pfeifer was consecrated into his position as the bishop of the San Angelo Diocese. His first action in his new role--get a car back on the road.

“I remember the coliseum was full. I waited for each person to leave so that I could greet every single one of them,” Pfeifer said of the night he was installed into the Diocese of San Angelo. 

Being the last to leave, Pfeifer noticed a car on the side of the road. He pulled over to see if he could be of aid and found a young couple with a broken-down vehicle. Pfeifer pulled out a jumper cable from his car and got their vehicle going. 

“I never told them I was the new bishop,” he said. 

Of those that selected him as bishop, Pfeifer chuckled. “Maybe because they were kind of foolish. I don’t know, perhaps they saw more in me than I saw in myself.” 

He said, “I didn’t think I would be here five years...I had to grow a lot in certain skills, and with the grace of God, I did.”

At 48 years old during his appointment, Pfeifer said he began to calculate the years. “If i do this for the rest of my active life it will be about 28 years,” he said. 

He had it right. Now at 76 the bishop has sent in his letter of resignation to Rome. This is required of all bishops reaching the age of 75. The pope then makes a decision in regards to the future of the diocese. Pfeifer’s submission of retirement was put in last May. Due to the transition from Pope Benedict XIV to Pope Francis I, the decision regarding Pfeifer’s retirement has been delayed. 

During his time as bishop in San Angelo Pfeifer has developed multiple organizations in order to better the community. He formed  the Concho Valley Community Action and Resources for Empowerment and Success Coalition in order to “reduce substance abuse through community effort, focusing on youth.”

Upon noticing the need for cultures to have better relations in a post 9/11 world, Pfeifer created the Peace Ambassadors. This was a group of representatives from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions. The group met in order to better inform the community of their culture and create healthy relation between the groups. 

He noted one of his greatest challenges during his time as bishop was the lack of priests in the area. Pfeifer said the call to religious life in the Diocese of San Angelo has increased and looks hopeful for the future. 

“Another challange was around the year 2000 when the Catholic Church went through the sexual abuse crisis. I think it really affected all of society,” Pfeifer said. 

He added, “I think it made us really reflect on what we stand for.”

Pfeifer said, “I would hope the greatest accomplishment [of my time as bishop] would be to help people love God and come to know God.”

Despite Pfeifer’s many efforts as bishop, he said, “It’s good to bring someone new in. It’s good for the person, it's good for the people. Hopefully we have done some good things. But as time moves on you need new ideas, new energy, new enthusiasm.” 

Upon retirement he plans on continuing ministry, only no longer as a leader. He said, “Hopefully [I'll] still do some priestly ministry, there will always be enough work to do.”

Pfeifer plans on leaving San Angelo upon retirement in order for the new bishop to have “free reign”.

For more information of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo visit www.sanangelodiocese.org.