Bishop Austin Anthony Vetter
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Helena

Bishop Austin Anthony Vetter


Austin Anthony Vetter was born in Linton, N.D., on September 13, 1967, to August and Loretta Vetter. The youngest of 12 children, he was raised on a farm and educated in the Linton Public School System. After graduation, he attended North Dakota State University and Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo, N.D. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy, he studied at the Pontifical North American College and the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. 

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Bismarck by Bishop John F. Kinney at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, N.D., on June 29, 1993.

His first assignment was serving as Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and he taught religion at St. Mary’s Central High School in Bismarck from 1994 to 1999. In North Dakota, he served as pastor of St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Center, St. Patrick’s Church in Dickinson, St. Leo the Great in Minot and as Rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck.

From 2004 to 2007, he was an adjunct faculty member for the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., where he taught The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest. In the Diocese of Bismarck, he served on the Presbyteral Council, Priest Personnel Board. He was Vicar for the Permanent Diaconate, Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop, and Director of Continuing Education of the Clergy. He served as Director of Spiritual Formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, from July 2012 through June 2018 and most recently as Rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck.

On October 8, 2019 he was announced as Pope Francis’ choice to serve as Bishop of the Diocese of Helena. He was ordained and installed as Helena’s 11th Bishop by Archbishop Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland, on November 20, 2019.

Bishop Vetter's Ordination & Installation Mass

Description of the Coat of Arms of H.E. The Most Reverend Austin A. Vetter Eleventh Bishop of Helena, MT – U.S.A.

In accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s heraldic tradition, the Coat of Arms of a Bishop is normally composed of:

  • a shield with its charges (symbols) representing family, geographic, religious and historical meanings and/or referring to the name of the Bishop;
  • a golden processional cross, with one traversal bar, to represent the rank of the Bishop, “impaled” (vertically) behind the shield;
  • a green hat (galero) with 12 (six on each side) attached tassels, graded 1; 2; 3; from top to bottom;
  • a banderole (banner) with the motto, printed generally in black, located beneath the shield.

Here was chosen a gothic shaped shield, frequently used in Roman Catholic Church heraldry and a processional bottony cross with five red stones to represent the Five Wounds of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

“F I A T”
(Luke 1:38)

For his episcopal motto, Bishop Vetter has chosen just this one word, taken directly from the Angelus Prayer found in the Gospel of St. Luke, when Mary says her “Yes,” thus beginning the mystery of the Incarnation. By this choice, Bishop Vetter wants to express that in his entire priestly life, and especially now, he is called to assume the fullness of the priesthood with the episcopate. He places his pastoral service in total trust and obedience to the will of God, as did the Blessed Mother.

Blazonry (heraldic description) of the Coat of Arms of Bishop Vetter:

“Arms impaled. Dexter: chevronny of eight Argent