Twelve men have served as Bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay since its creation in 1868. When the Diocese was founded there were a handful of parishes and priests serving 40,000 Catholics. Today, more than 150 parishes serve some 350,000 Catholics. In addition, there are more than 60 elementary and high schools, two Catholic colleges and 10 Catholic hospitals.
Here are some of the accomplishment of these bishops:
Most Reverend Joseph Melcher, first Bishop of Green Bay (1868-73)
Increased the number of priests from 16 to 40, while the Catholic population soared from 40,000 to 60,000.
Built a rectory for the pro-Cathedral parish.
Attended the first Vatican Council in Rome, 1869-1870.
Persuaded Ursuline Sisters of St. Louis to open an academy for young ladies in Green Bay.
Most Reverend Francis Xavier Krautbauer, second Bishop of Green Bay (1875-1885)
Directed the building (1876-1879) of a new cathedral.
Earliest area Catholics revered him for establishing Catholic schools and his concern for sick and elderly priests.
Responsible for planning and building Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help™ Chapel at Champion.
Most Reverend Frederick Katzer, third Bishop of Green Bay (1886-1891)
Successfully led opposition to so-called Bennett Law, which tried to ban use of any language but English.
Oversaw the growth of schools and other Catholic institutions.
Most Reverend Sebastian G. Messmer, fourth Bishop of Green Bay, (1892-1903)
Encouraged parochial school growth and other church institutions.
Invited Fr. Bernard H. Pennings, O.Praem., of The Netherlands to establish the Norbertine Order in America, which led to the founding of St. Norbert College.
Most Reverend Joseph John Fox, fifth Bishop of Green Bay (1904-1914)
Strong interest in education and advancement of parochial school system.
Built new episcopal residence (now the Chancery).
First and only native son of the diocese to become its bishop.
Most Reverend Paul Peter Rhode, sixth Bishop of Green Bay (1914-1945)
Founded 10 parishes and 19 parochial schools.
Created local Catholic Charities and diocesan department of education.
Responsible for a number of benevolent diocesan institutions.
Most Reverend Stanislaus Vincent Bona, seventh Bishop of Green Bay (1945-1967)
Sixty-seven grade schools and four high schools built and many others were expanded.
Holy Family College (now Silver Lake College of the Holy Family) built.
Founding of Sacred Heart Seminary.
Established a diocesan newspaper.
Adjusted the social welfare program of Catholic Charities to meet new needs, including those of migrant farm workers.
Most Reverend Aloysius Wycislo, eighth Bishop of Green Bay (1968-1983)
Directed implementation of the Second Vatican Council in the Diocese as one of the Fathers of Vatican II.
Permanent Diaconate program formed to prepare single and married men to be ministers of service.
Worship made more meaningful, rewrote marriage guidelines, and established family counseling services.
Developments in areas of social concern such as services for refugees and migrants including Vietnamese, Laotians, Hmong, and Hispanic peoples; commissions for youth, scouting, ministry to the deaf and handicapped, pro-life concerns; urban ministry for Native Americans.
Most Reverend Adam Joseph Maida, ninth Bishop of Green Bay (1984-1990)
Appointed first female chancellor and named first female parish director.
Established diocesan planning council and ministry formation program.
Initiated diocesan census.
Implemented RCIA process.
Raised $9 million through Lumen Christi education endowment campaign.
Most Reverend Robert Joseph Banks, tenth Bishop of Green Bay (1990-2003)
Restructured diocesan administration by appointing Vicar for Administration, Assistant to Vicar and establishing Bishop's Advisory Council.
Implemented study of diocesan schools and development of school policies.
Weekly columnist for The Compass.
Initiated parish planning study process/merging of parishes.
Leadership in Renew 2000.
Developed good relationship with Lutheran, Episcopalian, and Methodist churches.
Served as chair of the Bishops' Committee on Education; member of the Bishops' Committee on the Catechism; recently re-elected as chair of the National Catholic Education Association.
Most Reverend David Allen Zubik, eleventh Bishop of Green Bay (2003-2007)
Began initiative for Vocations, which increased from 9 in 2003 to 17 in 2006;
Started initiatives for Spirituality and Evangelization, which were strengthened by creating new Evangelization and Worship Department
Created initiative for Safe Environments, which continues to be aggressively monitored by conducting background checks and requiring safe environment training for all paid staff and volunteers at all parishes, schools and diocesan facilities. Additionally, the Diocese continues to be in full compliance with the national standards and has passed every national audit.
Initiated a three-year stewardship campaign, "Advancing the Mission," to strengthen vibrant parish ministries, leadership development, evangelization, life-long catechesis, and priestly retirement care.
Most Reverend David Laurin Ricken, twelfth Bishop of Green Bay (2008- )
Launched vocation initiative with appointment of Fr. Quinn Mann as assistant vocation director for the diocese and developing plans for St. Joseph Formation Center in Baileys Harbor. The Diocese has 26 seminarians for 2014-2015.
Issued on December 8, 2010, the "Decree on the Authenticity of the Apparitions of 1859 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help™" in Champion, Wisconsin, to Adele Brise. Bishop Ricken is the first and only diocesan bishop in the United States to officially approve a Marian apparition.
Issued three pastoral letters, including his most recent, "Parishes: Call to be Holy, Fully Engaged, Fully Alive," on June 12, 2011.