Nebraska native Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt, was ordained and installed as eighth bishop for the Diocese of Grand Island on March 19, 2015, at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bishop Hanefeldt succeeds Bishop William J. Dendinger, who submitted his resignation upon his 75th birthday on May 20, 2014.
Born April 25, 1958, in Creighton to Helen Hanefeldt and the late Adolph Hanefeldt, Bishop Hanefeldt is one of four children. A sister, Pamela, and her husband Deland Reynolds, and brother, Bill and his wife, Kris, all live in Bloomfield, while his other brother, Jerry and his wife, Dixie, live on the farm in Center where Bishop Hanefeldt grew up. They raised corn, oats and alfalfa, stock cattle, farrowed out hogs and chickens. Bishop Hanefeldt spent summer days cultivating corn, raking hay, thrashing oats, fixing fence and chopping thistles. For a few summers in high school, he and his sister raised cucumbers to be sold to the Gedney Pickle company.
He was baptized and received his first communion at St. Wenceslaus in Verdigre and was confirmed at St. Ludger in Creighton. He attended elementary school at St. Ludger Catholic School. He graduated from Creighton Public School in 1976 and attended the University of St. Thomas and St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., graduating with a bachelor of arts in sociology in 1980. He received an STB in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1983. He also began a licentiate program in sacramental theology at the Pontifical University of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. While in Rome, Bishop Hanefeldt was ordained a transitional deacon on April 14, 1983, at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood at St. Ludger in Creighton on July 14, 1984.
He was assigned associate pastor at St. Mary’s in West Point with teaching responsibilities at West Point Central Catholic High School, from 1984 to 1988. From 1988 to 1992, he was associate pastor at St. Joan of Arc in Omaha. In 1992, Bishop Hanefeldt was named pastor of St. Joseph in Omaha, and in 1995, he was named pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Omaha. From 1991 to 2006, he was archdiocesan director of the Bishop’s Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life activities. He was named a monsignor in December 2010.
Bishop Hanefeldt received a certificate in spiritual direction and retreat ministry from the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha in January 2005. In 2007, Bishop Hanefeldt returned to Rome, this time as spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College. He served as director of spiritual formation from 2009 to 2012. He returned to his home archdiocese of Omaha in 2012 where he was named pastor of Christ the King in Omaha. He was named vice president of the priests council in 2013 as well as vicar forane of the Urban West Central Deanery and a member of the College of Consultors.
Over the years, Bishop Hanefeldt has also served as spiritual director at Christians Encounter Christ retreats, Teens Encounter Christ retreats and for the summer program for seminarians for the Institute for Priestly Formation. He served two terms for the priests personnel board, on the priests committee for the Ignite the Faith Campaign and as a member of the Knights of Columbus, 4th degree.
He enjoys photography, travel, cooking and visiting friends.