Msgr. Michael Sis is next bishop of San Angelo
By Shelley Metcalf
Catholic Spirit Staff
Pope Francis named Msgr. Michael J. Sis as the sixth bishop of San Angelo on Dec. 12. He will replace retiring Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI, DD, who was appointed Bishop of San Angelo by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
Bishop-elect Sis, who will turn 54 on Jan. 9, will be ordained and installed as bishop Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. in San Angelo.
“It is a joy, an honor and an undeserved privilege” to be named the next bishop of San Angelo, Bishop-elect Sis said. “Whenever we enter into a new situation, we learn from and honor the legacy of those who have gone before us … that is what I have tried to do wherever I go. Now I am ready to commit myself whole-heartedly to the people of San Angelo, building on the work of Bishop Pfeifer.”
He humbly admitted that his learning curve is high because he is not very familiar with West Texas and Dec. 12 was only his second time in the city of San Angelo.
“However, as a Catholic I believe that in our sacraments God gives us the grace that we need to carry out the mission the sacrament calls us to. On Jan. 27, I will receive the sacrament of Holy Orders and with it will come the grace to carry out my role as bishop. I place my complete trust in Jesus, and today especially in the Blessed Virgin Mary as we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Bishop-elect Sis said.
Ordained a priest at St. Louis Parish in Austin in 1986, Bishop-elect Sis was raised in Bryan, where he was active in the youth group at St. Anthony Parish, and where his father was a permanent deacon and his mother served as coordinator of religious education. He attended the University of Notre Dame and received his theological training at the North American College in Rome. He speaks Spanish and Italian “with mistakes,” he joked during the press conference on Dec. 12.
Bishop-elect Sis’ first assignment was at Cristo Rey Parish in East Austin. He also served two years at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin. He then returned to Bryan/College Station where he served more than 13 years in campus ministry at St. Mary Catholic Center at Texas A&M University. He served as director of vocations for the diocese from 2006 to 2009 before being named pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in July 2009.
Bishop Joe Vásquez appointed Bishop-elect Sis as vicar general on June 25, 2010. In that role he served as the principal deputy to Bishop Vásquez, exercising the bishop’s ordinary executive power over the entire diocese.
Bishop Vásquez thanked Bishop-elect Sis for his dedication and love of the priesthood and for his service to the Austin Diocese.
“He is an exemplary priest who is esteemed by his brother priests and those he has served and worked with over the last 27 years,” the bishop said.
Bishop Vásquez, who was born, raised and ordained a priest in the Diocese of San Angelo, said the people of his home diocese are blessed to have “such a wonderful priest” as their next bishop.
“Many of my family members, brother priests and friends still live there, and as they come to know Bishop-elect Sis they will appreciate his warmth, compassion and zeal to serve the people of God,” the bishop said.
Established on Oct. 16, 1961, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Angelo encompasses more than 37,000 square miles in Central and West Texas with 77,000 Catholics out of a total population of about 860,000. The diocese has 47 parishes and 22 missions. It is the Austin Diocese’s neighbor to the west; however, the San Angelo Diocese is under the metropolitan see of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Austin is under the see of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, of San Antonio, who will ordain Bishop-elect Sis on Jan. 27, offered his congratulations to the newly named bishop.
“I ask all in the Archdiocese of San Antonio to pray that God will bless and guide Bishop-elect Sis as he prepares for this important new role as shepherd of the Diocese of San Angelo. I offer him my support and affection, and wish him every success,” Archbishop Garcia-Siller said.
Bishop Pfeifer has been San Angelo’s bishop since July 26, 1985. Pope Francis granted his retirement having reached the age of 75. Bishop Pfeifer welcomed Bishop-elect Sis with open arms.
“I ask you all to give him your constant prayers and support,” Bishop Pfeifer said. “I am not sure what will happen in the future, there is much work still to be done, but it tends to all work out. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know whose hands hold the future: Jesus Christ.”
Bishop-elect Sis said he will stay in Austin for a few weeks wrapping up loose ends and “clearing off my desk,” then he will make a retreat, which the church requires before a priest is ordained a bishop.
“Then I will move to San Angelo and hit the ground running. Pray for me and the people of San Angelo. Pray that God gives us the graces we need to carry out the mission of spreading the love of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Masses of Thanksgiving for Bishop-elect Sis will be celebrated Jan. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Thomas More Parish and Jan. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at St. Mary Catholic Center in College Station. Receptions will follow the Masses.