Tulsa Priest Named Archbishop

Msgr. Peter Wells, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Tulsa on July 12, 1991, will be ordained a Bishop by Pope Francis this March 19th in the Basilica of Saint Peter, Vatican City.

The ordination announcement was made Tuesday, February 9, by Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State for the Holy See, who announced the Pontiff’s decision to ordain Archbishop-Elect Wells and send him as Papal Nuncio to southern Africa. As Nuncio there, Archbishop-Elect Wells will be expected to support the Vatican’s efforts to encourage the work of the local bishops, to foster vocations, and to promote evangelization everywhere in the region.

The work of the Nuncio also includes promoting positive bilateral relations between the Vatican and the government of the host country.

“I am extremely humbled and honored by the faith which has been placed in me by the Church and our Holy Father, especially in this Year of Mercy,” said Wells, who is the first priest from the Diocese of Tulsa to be elevated to the episcopacy. “I ask for your prayers as I prepare to embark on this mission to the extraordinary people of southern Africa.”

Archbishop-Elect Wells hopes to be able to return to Tulsa after Easter to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving with his family, with the priests of the Diocese and with Bishop Edward Slattery. “I have known the new Archbishop for more than 22 years,” reminisced Bishop Slattery. “Peter is well thought of by all who know him and the innumerable ways he has put his intelligence, his commitment and his priestly zeal at the service of the Church – and especially the Office of the Papacy – have earned our deepest respect.” Archbishop Elect Wells will offer that Mass of Thanksgiving Monday evening, April 4, at 5:00 o’clock at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Tulsa. A reception will follow Mass in the Cathedral Hall.

Following his ordination in Tulsa, Archbishop-Elect Wells served as the Associate Pastor at Holy Family Cathedral. There he was immersed in the day-to-day life of a large urban parish and developed his abilities to reach the poor and the marginalized. As Bishop Slattery’s Vicar for Religious Education here in Tulsa, Wells developed a nationally imitated program to teach theology to lay Catholics and at one time the Pastoral Studies Institute offered both a Bachelor’s in Pastoral Ministry and a Master’s in Theology Studies.

Called to Rome in 1996, Archbishop-elect Wells earned advanced degrees in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University (1999) and completed a course of studies at the elite Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy prior to entering the diplomatic service of the Holy See on July 1, 1999. His first assignment was to the Apostolic Nunciature in Nigeria and in 2002 was asked to serve at the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State. He was appointed to head the English Section in 2006 and for the past six and a half years has served the Holy See as Assessor, a position which he likened to the Holy Father’s Chief of Staff.

“No one should ever underestimate the importance of America’s smaller dioceses,” reflected Bishop Slattery. “Our Diocese is not very large but it has known saints like Mother Drexel and produced martyrs like Fr. Stanley Rother. Now one of our priests will be ordained as a successor to the Apostles and will go to southern Africa to represent St. Peter’s successor Pope Francis. This is indeed a joyful day for the Catholic people of Tulsa.”

Diocese of Tulsa's photo.

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