Colleagues comment on Neary’s pastoral gifts

Patrick Neary, C.S.C. of LaPorte, Indiana, was ordained bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota in a Mass on February 14, 2023. 

Bp. Neary was an undergraduate seminarian at Notre Dame’s Old College, graduating with a B.A. in history in 1985, before going on to complete the course of study at the Holy Cross Novitiate and receiving a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. He was ordained and went on to serve as associate pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Arizona; director of Campus Ministry at Notre Dame; director of Moreau Seminary; rector of the McCauley House of Formation in Nairobi, Kenya; and, most recently, pastor at Holy Redeemer Church in Portland, Oregon.

Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. expressed his support when Father Neary’s appointment was announced in December 2022: “The University of Notre Dame joins with the Congregation of Holy Cross in celebrating with the family and friends of Rev. Patrick M. Neary, C.S.C., his appointment by Pope Francis as the new bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota.”

Neary was raised in nearby LaPorte, Indiana, just one town over from Father Bob Dowd, C.S.C., religious superior of Holy Cross at Notre Dame. Fr. Dowd shared in an interview with the Rover that he worked with Fr. Neary extensively both at Moreau Seminary, in Campus Ministry at Notre Dame, and at the Holy Cross community in Nairobi.

When asked about the personal qualities that might inform Neary’s service to the Church as a bishop, Father Dowd said that “Father Pat has a great listening heart; he’s a great storyteller, and he’s got a fabulous sense of humor. But I think what stands out most to me is just his pastoral presence … He’s a very good preacher, but I think he preaches most strongly with his life.”

Dowd continued, telling of Neary’s impact specifically at Notre Dame in the early 1990s: “He had a special responsibility for pastoral care of our Latino students … It was hard for many of them to feel at home here … But he was a really good listener for many of them and helped them organize events that helped celebrate their culture and helped them to really feel a part of this university … I think that, in many ways, the strides that Notre Dame has made with regard to the Latino community date back to the time of Father Pat.”

Ultimately, Father Dowd observed, “It’s clear to me that they really loved him. And I think that’s because they could tell that he really loved them.”

Father Dowd concluded, “There’s the saying attributed to St. Francis: preach always and when necessary, use words. I think Father Pat is someone who preaches really well with his life and he’s got a very caring pastoral presence with people. He really represents the best of the priesthood … Father Pat did not aspire to be a bishop. But I think he is embracing the role because he cares deeply about the church and cares deeply about the people of God. I think he’ll be a fabulous shepherd and pastor for the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud.

Bishop Neary is now one of a handful of Holy Cross bishops across the world, including several in India and Pakistan. Holy Cross’s international reach, and Bishop Neary’s ministry to diverse groups of people through his life in Holy Cross, Father Dowd contended, will prepare him uniquely to serve the Diocese of St. Cloud.

Dowd added that not only the variety of experiences, but also the unique emphasis on community which Holy Cross boasts will have prepared Bishop Neary for his new position of ministry: “We in Holy Cross have a strong sense of community, priests and brothers together. We tend to enjoy each other’s company. We do our best to encourage and support one another and challenge one another when necessary, and I think that will serve him well. I think he’ll be a good community builder in the Diocese of St. Cloud among his priests and among the lay people.”

Before his ordination as a bishop, Neary wrote a letter to the faithful of the diocese of St. Cloud with an exhortation to continue the work of the Spirit there: “What will guide me most as the 10th bishop of St. Cloud will simply be the prophetic motto of the diocese: ‘Heart of Mercy. Voice of Hope. Hands of Justice.’ May God grant me the grace to embrace it and to be faithful to it!”

For information on the work that Bishop Neary is doing in his diocese in education, implementation of the Eucharistic Revival, and more, visit his page on the website of the diocese of St. Cloud:

Joshua Gilchrist is a senior with majors in the Program of Liberal Studies and theology. He still doesn’t really know what his thesis is about, but he’s looking forward to finishing it by 4pm on March 6. Don’t ask him what it’s about until then. For other inquiries, you can reach him via email at