We have seen the first two episcopal appointments by Pope Francis in the U.S.

Bishop Michael Jackels will now go to Dubuque and Msgr John Folda will become Bishop of Fargo.

What is interesting is that both Jackels and Folda hail from the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. Yes, Lincoln.

As Rocco Palmo puts it:

For a Pope whose shifts of style have won an extraordinary amount of raves from progressives, it is indeed conspicuous that Papa Bergoglio’s first American personnel moves – more than any other aspect of a pontificate, the place where the rubber hits the road – have both gone to priests of Lincoln, a diocese that’s made its name in recent decades on anything but a liberal bent. Neither of the nominees, however, are natives of Husker Country – born elsewhere, both only entered seminary after attending the University of Nebraska as undergrads.

In any event, as Francis’ identikit for nominees begins to emerge, both appointments reflect a premium on picks who’ve yielded impressive, concrete results.

On that front, Jackels’ Wichita has set a national high-watermark both in priestly vocations and a stewardship-based Catholic school system believed to be the US’ lone outfit that (get this) doesn’t charge tuition to active parishioners, while the Lincoln seminary – whose fairly recent establishment bucked the prevailing trend – has served as the engine behind the building of a formation group numbering over 40 men, a figure barely equaled even by most of the largest local churches on these shores.

Where the rubber hits the road indeed. Keeping an eye on Episcopal appointments will tell us a lot about where Pope Francis wants to take the Church.

Another big appointment that will tell us much about Pope Francis’ plans may come as early as tomorrow according to Father Z.

My spidey-sense suggests that there may be an appointment of a new Secretary of State very soon. It is safe to say “soon”. How about maybe as soon as tomorrow… well… today (it’s just after midnight where I am).

This appointment is important. It will signal what the Holy Father intends to do with, for example, curial reform and also to whom he is listening now that he is getting his hands on the reins of government.

Keeping an eye.

*subhead*Keeping an eye.*subhead*