The magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Lansing

The past four bishops of Lansing
Since becoming a diocese in 1937, Lansing has had five bishops.

Joseph Albers was born in Cincinnati in 1891 and ordained a priest there in 1916. As a chaplain in World War I, he was wounded three times and received the Silver Star for bravery. At 38, he was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Cincinnati, making him one of the youngest bishops in the country. He was assigned to establish the new Diocese of Lansing in 1937.
In January 1938, there was a serious fire in the rectory of St. Mary Cathedral. Bishop Albers, his lungs weakened from being gassed in World War I, collapsed and was rescued by local firemen.
During his episcopacy, the diocese built 38 parishes, 42 elementary schools and two high schools, earning Bishop Albers the appellation, “the builder.”

On Oct. 7, 1964, the Most Rev. Bishop Alexander M. Zaleski was sent from the Archdiocese of Detroit to new duties in Lansing, and as eventual successor to the ailing Bishop Albers, who died on Dec. 1, 1965.
One of seven children, Zaleski was born in Laurel, N.Y., in 1906. He was ordained in 1931 in Louvain, Belgium. He had attended St. Mary College in Orchard Lake and returned there to be a Scripture professor. In 1950, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Detroit, serving there until coming to Lansing. Bishop Zaleski had many responsibilities in the church hierarchy nationally. He died in 1975.

Succeeding Bishop Zaleski was Kenneth Povish, the first of our bishops to be a Michigan native. Born in 1924 in Alpena, he was ordained a priest in 1950 for the Diocese of Saginaw.
He was in that diocese until appointed as bishop of Crookston, Minn. On Dec. 11, 1975, he was installed as Lansing’s third bishop.
For a number of years, while a parish priest in the Saginaw Diocese, Bishop Povish wrote a column for the Catholic Weekly newspaper. Then, as bishop of Lansing, he was again a columnist for the newspaper, and appeared on a regular television program called Real to Reel.
After a long battle with cancer, Bishop Povish died on Sept. 5, 2003.

Our fourth bishop, Carl F. Mengeling, was born Oct.22, 1930, in Hammond, Ind. He was ordained in 1957. In 1964, he earned a doctorate in sacred theology in Rome. He taught for four years, then was a pastor at different parishes until coming to Lansing as bishop on Jan. 25, 1996. He initiated the publication of FAITH magazine, which has won numerous Catholic Press Association awards.

An interesting footnote is that three of our first four bishops (all except Bishop Povish) were present at the opening session of the Second Vatican Council. Bishops Albers and Zaleski were attending, and Father Mengeling was a page.

Priests from Michigan who became bishops elsewhere

Bishop Joseph Rademacher

Though he never was a priest in the Lansing Diocese, Joseph Rademacher was born in the parish of St. Peter in Westphalia in 1840. He was consecrated bishop of Nashville in 1883.

Bishop Michael Joseph Green

Born in 1917 in St. Joseph, M. Joseph Green was ordained a priest on July 14, 1946. Msgr. Green was consecrated as the first auxiliary bishop of the diocese at St. Mary Cathedral on August 28, 1962. He was the bishop of Reno, Nev., from 1967-74. After resigning there, he was pastor of St. Joseph in Adrian until his retirement in 1979. He died Aug. 30, 1982.

Bishop James Sullivan

James Sullivan was born in Kalamazoo and was ordained in 1955 in the Lansing diocese. He founded Liturgical Commission Publishings, which offers priests daily commentaries for the Mass and homilies. He was named auxiliary bishop in 1972 when Bishop Zaleski’s health was failing. He was appointed as Bishop of Fargo, N.D., in May 1985.

Bishop Paul Donovan

Paul Donovan was born in Iowa, but attended St. Mary Cathedral High School in Lansing. He was pastor at Our Lady of Fatima, Michigan Center, and at St. Agnes in Flint, also serving as the head of the priests’ council, which advises the bishop. When Kalamazoo was created as a diocese in 1971, Father Donovan became its bishop, until he retired in 1994.

Bishop James Murray

James Murray was born in Jackson in 1932 and ordained a priest in 1958. He was rector at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing for 25 years and chancellor for the diocese from 1968-98, when he was named the third bishop of Kalamazoo.

Monsignor Albert Koenigsknecht, M.M.
A native of Most Holy Trinity Parish, Fowler, Albert Koenigsknecht was ordained in 1945. In 1973, Msgr. Koenigsknecht was appointed apostolic administrator of the Juli Prelature in Peru. An apostolic administrator has the rank of a bishop without the privilege to ordain. He died in an automobile accident in February 1986 in Peru.


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