On Tuesday the Vatican announced that Bishop Edward M. Rice of St. Louis has been tapped by Pope Francis to take charge of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese.
It is an appointment that moved Bishop Rice, who said in an April 26 press release that “I am humbled by the confidence of the Holy Father and I am grateful for his support in appointing me the seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.”
He extended to Pope Francis “the prayers and love” of Springfield-Cape Girardeau’s clergy, religious and laity, and voiced his excitement to work alongside his fellow priests in “spreading the beauty of our Catholic Faith in the spirit of the New Evangelization” in his new role.
Bishop Rice said he leaves Archdiocese of St. Louis, headed by Archbishop Robert Carlson with “a grateful heart” after having spent 29 years there as a priest and nine as an auxiliary bishop.
“I see the hand of God in this appointment,” he said, adding that the Lord’s loving providence “has brought me to this moment and I rely on that same loving providence to assist me as I strive to walk in the way of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who will continue to guide my way if I but seek to do His will.”
Bishop Rice asked specifically for the intercession of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne and Pope St. Pius X, the patrons of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese, for his new role, entrusting it to Our Lady of Mercy.
The announcement of Bishop Rice’s appointment the new leader of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau was made at noon Rome time April 26 in a communique from the Vatican.
He will take over for Bishop James V. Johnston, who was installed as the new Bishop of Kansas City — St. Joseph Nov. 4, 2015.
Born in St. Louis, Miss. July 28, 1960, Bishop Rice studied at the Cardinal Clennon College and the Kenrick- Glennon Seminary in St. Louis before being ordained a priest for the diocese Jan. 3, 1987.
He then served as associate pastor for Our Lady of the Presentation Parish from 1987-1991, before moving on as a religion teacher at St. Mary’s High School. He taught at the school while residing at St. Mary Magdalen Parish from 1991-1995.
In 1995 he was named Director at Cardinal Glennon College Seminary, which is a position he held until his appointment as pastor at St. John the Baptist in 2000. In 2008 he was named as St. Louis’ Director of Vocations and continued in the role until he was named auxiliary bishop of the diocese by Benedict XVI in 2010.
During his brief, five year episcopacy, Bishop Rice has served in various positions, including being vicar for five of the diocesan deaneries.
Additionally, he has overseen various ministries of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, including those of consecrated life, vocations, priest personnel, youth protection, intercultural and interreligious affairs, and the St. Charles Lwanga Center.
The official announcement of Bishop Rice’s appointment to Springfield-Cape Girardeau will be made during a 10a.m. news conference local time.
He will be installed as bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau June 1 during a 2 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Agnes in Springfield.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis will hold a farewell celebration, including a Mass of Thanksgiving and reception, May 23 at 5 p.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
In an April 26 press release, Archbishop Carlson said he is “extremely grateful” for Bishop Rice’s years of service in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and congratulated him on his new appointment.
“The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau is blessed beyond measure to receive a man of his quality and dedication,” he said, noting that Bishop Rice “is a pastor first, one who carries the joy of the resurrected Christ into his daily ministry.”
Bishop Rice “will be deeply missed,” Archbishop Carlson said, asking that God would grant him “many years of fruitful service leading the faithful in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.”