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Michael William Warfel

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Michael William Warfel
Bishop Emeritus of Great Falls–Billings
SeeDiocese of Great Falls–Billings
AppointedNovember 20, 2007
InstalledJanuary 16, 2008
RetiredAugust 22, 2023
PredecessorAnthony Michael Milone
SuccessorJeffrey M. Fleming
OrdinationApril 26, 1980
by Francis Thomas Hurley
ConsecrationDecember 17, 1996
by Francis Thomas Hurley, Michael Joseph Kaniecki, and William S. Skylstad
Personal details
Born (1948-09-16) September 16, 1948 (age 75)
Previous post(s)
  • Bishop of Juneau (1996–2008)
MottoAlways to walk in Christ
Styles of
Michael William Warfel
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop

Michael William Warfel (born September 16, 1948) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who was bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings in Montana from 2007 to 2023. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Juneau in Alaska from 1996 to 2007.


Early life[edit]

Michael Warfel was born on September 16, 1948, in Elkhart, Indiana. He attended Indiana University, but before his graduation enlisted in the U.S. Army. Warfel served in South Vietnam for 18 months during the Vietnam War, then spent 13 months in South Korea.[1]

After leaving the Army in 1971, Warfel entered St. Gregory's College Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, obtaining a Bachelor of Philosophy degree. Warfel received a Master of Divinity degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West in Cincinnati. He attended St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont, for his Master of Theology degree.[1] While a seminarian, Warfel visited his sister in Alaska. He later requested permission to transfer from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, which was sponsoring his vocation, to the Archdiocese of Anchorage.


Warfel was ordained to the priesthood by Francis Hurley for the Archdiocese of Anchorage on April 26, 1980 at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend, Indiana.[2] After his ordination, Warfel served as parochial vicar at St. Benedict Parish in Anchorage from 1980 to 1985, then as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Wasilla, Alaska, from 1985 to 1989.

The archdiocese then assigned Warfel as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Kodiak, Alaska from 1990 to 1995. While in Kodiak, Warfel instituted a Sunday Mass in Spanish for Spanish-speaking parishioners. He was named pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Anchorage in 1995.[3][4]

Bishop of Juneau[edit]

On November 19, 1996, Warfel was appointed as the fourth bishop of Juneau by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on December 17, 1996, from Archbishop Francis Hurley, with Bishops Michael Kaniecki and William Skylstad serving as co-consecrators, at Centennial Hall in Juneau, Alaska.[1][2]

In 1997, Warfel mediated a dispute over subsistence fishing rights between the Alaska Native Brotherhood, a Native Alaskan advocacy group, and the Territorial Sportsmen, an association that sponsored fishing tournaments. As bishop, Warfel served as chair of the Committee on Evangelization within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 1999 to 2002.[4]

The Vatican appointed Warfel as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Fairbanks on October 23, 2001. His term ended with the appointment of Bishop Donald Kettler on June 7, 2002.[5]

Bishop of Great Falls-Billings[edit]

Pope Benedict XVI named Warfel as seventh bishop of Great Falls-Billings on November 20, 2007.[6] [2]He was installed by Archbishop John Vlazny on January 16, 2008.[1] Within the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Warfel served as chair of the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions and as a member of the Administrative Committee.

In 2010, Warfel was the keynote speaker at the Msgr. Philip J. Murnion Lecture of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative in Chicago, giving an address entitled, "Journey to Communion in Christ". He was a member of the Catholic Common Ground Advisory Committee.[7] As of 2023, Warfel is a board member of the Montana Catholic Conference and the University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana.[4][8]

In July 2018, Warfel reprimanded two priests from the diocese who, in clerical garb, attended a rally in Great Falls, Montana, for President Donald Trump. The rally organizers seated the two men in the first row behind the podium. They were seen clapping when Trump joked about the MeToo movement and referred derisively to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas". Warfel told the priests that they should have worn civilian clothes to the rally and should have requested less visible seats.[9]


In 2021, anticipating his retirement as bishop of Great Falls-Billings in 2023, Warfel asked the Vatican to appoint a coadjutor bishop to assist him. In response, Pope Francis named Reverend Jeffrey M. Fleming as coadjutor bishop on April 19, 2022.[10] Fleming automatically became the new bishop of Great Falls-Billings when Francis accepted Warfel's resignation on August 22, 2023.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Bishop Michael W. Warfel". The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  2. ^ a b c "Bishop Michael William Warfel [Catholic-Hierarchy]". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  3. ^ "Alaska bishop named to head Montana diocese". Catholic Review - Archdiocese of Baltimore. 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  4. ^ a b c "Bishop Michael Warfel". University of Providence. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  5. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 07.06.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. June 7, 2002. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  6. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 20.11.2007" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. November 20, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  7. ^ "2010 Msgr. Philip J. Murnion Lecture of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative". Catholic Common Ground Initiative. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  8. ^ "About Us". Montana Catholic Conference. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  9. ^ "Bishop Criticizes Priests Who Attended Trump Rally as VIPs". Flathead Beacon. 2018-07-09. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  10. ^ "Fr Jeffrey Michael Fleming named Coadjutor Bishop of Great Falls-Billings" (PDF). Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  11. ^ "Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Michael Warfel of Great Falls-Billings; Succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Jeffrey Fleming". U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved 22 August 2023.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Juneau
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Great Falls-Billings
Succeeded by