The Cathedral has sit down interviews several priests who assist at Mass and wrote a short article on each. They interviewed Msgr Gilles whom is one of the potential replacements for Arch Listecki as bishop of La Crosse. After looking at this, I'm leaning toward Msgr. Gilles versus someone from outside the diocese. I thought previously that Msgr Gilles might end up as an auxiliary somewhere, but he seems quite well connected.
Msgr. Richard Gilles
In this, the “Year of the Priest”, we continue to get to know the priests who serve the Cathedral. Monsignor Richard Gilles officiates at Mass and shares his homilies with Cathedral parishioners and visitors.
As a boy, growing up in rural Boyd, WI, near Chippewa Falls, he attended public schools. When he was in eighth grade, his pastor, during confession, asked him if he had ever considered the priesthood. A few years later, while attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Father Robert Cook, Vocation Director, talked to him about the priesthood. He realized he had a calling and transferred to the University of St. Thomas - St. John Vianney Seminary, St. Paul, MN, where he received a B.A. in Theology. His Masters of Divinity was received from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, IL. One of his teachers was Father Jerome Listecki, who would later become the Bishop of La Crosse.
Msgr. Gilles was ordained at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral by Bishop John Paul in 1994. Some years later, at the direction of now Archbishop Raymond Burke, he received his licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy.
Most of Msgr. Gilles’ service has been in challenging administrative duties, other than Chaplain and instructor at McDonell Central High School, Chippewa Falls for three years and parochial Administrator of Sacred Heart Parish at Eau Claire for nine months.
He is the middle child in his family and has three sisters and one brother. Theirs is a very caring relationship and they enjoy time together. He is a farm boy at heart, having spent time on his grandfather’s farm and many years on an aunt’s farm. He enjoys milking cows, planting and landscaping. Biking and hiking are favorite past times. Archbishop Listecki introduced him to books on tape and he enjoys these during the many hours of driving. Favorite authors are James Patterson, John Grisham and David Baldacci.
The most difficult time in his ministry was the 2002 sexual abuse allegations. The public outrage, where many held all priests in disdain, affected the many good men in the priesthood.
The happiest time in his ministry is celebrating the sacraments. He enjoyed teaching high school students, working with teacher colleagues and the camaraderie of his fellow priests. A favorite scripture narration describes Jesus walking on water, reaching out to Peter and saying “Do not be afraid”. It presumes Christ is with us, we are not alone.
Since Msgr. Gilles does not have a parish, he is drawn to the Cathedral to serve because of the warm hospitality, the beautiful liturgy and as a good example of a Mother Church, which sets a good tone for the Diocese. He feels he is needed. He also needs the Cathedral parishioners to be surrounded by good people. He values the prayers and welcomes the availability of lay members for consultation. He is saddened by the departure of Archbishop Jerome Listecki, his teacher, mentor and friend, but knows that God has called him to serve the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
Msgr. Gilles has been elected Diocesan Administrator to govern the Diocese of La Crosse until a new Bishop is named. This shows the respect for him that is held by the College of Consultors, as well as recognition of his abilities, strong work ethic and reverence for the position.
As a parish, we are blessed by his presence. Please remember him in your prayers, as he fulfills this position, as he did previously, when Archbishop Raymond Burke was called to lead the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri.