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Styles of
Donald Edmond Pelotte
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style none

Donald E. Pelotte, SSS (April 13, 1945 – January 7, 2010) was the third Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico.[1] He was the first person of Native American descent to become a Catholic bishop; Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the only other active American diocesan bishop who is of Native American descent. He is also the only known Roman Catholic bishop to have ordained his own twin brother, Father Dana F. Pelotte, SSS, to the priesthood, on September 4, 1999 in their childhood parish of Waterville, Maine.[2]


Pelotte was born on April 13, 1945, in Waterville, Maine, to Norris Albert Pelotte and Margaret Yvonne LaBrie Pelotte. His father was a member of the Abenaki First Nations tribe and his mother was of French-Canadian (Québécois) descent. Donald and his twin brother Dana were the youngest of five brothers. He studied at Eymard Seminary in Hyde Park, New York during his high school years. He did his college studies John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio and later pursued doctoral studies at Fordham University. His doctoral dissertation was entitled: John Courtney Murray, Theologian in Conflict: Roman Catholicism and the American Experience. This was later published in book form by Paulist Press.[3]

At age 33, he became the Provincial Superior of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and was the youngest major superior of a religious community of men in the United States at the time. On February 24, 1986, he was named Coadjutor Bishop of Gallup and was consecrated on May 6, 1986. Upon the retirement of Jerome J. Hastrich, then Bishop of Gallup on March 31, 1990, Pelotte became the Third Bishop of Gallup.[3]

Later life

Pelotte was seriously injured in his Gallup home on July 23, 2007, including a traumatic brain injury. According to chancery officials and a police report, Pelotte insisted his injuries resulted from a fall down his home staircase, however his aide speculated that "looked like he'd been beat up" and that his injuries were more consistent with a brutal assault rather than with a fall down a carpeted stairwell.[4]

On January 3, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, as apostolic administrator sede plena of the diocese of Gallup, and granted Pelotte a one year leave of absence to continue his recovery. .[5]

On April 30, 2008 the Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the pastoral government of the Diocese of Gallup, presented by Pelotte, SSS, in accordance with canon 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.[6]. Bishop Olmsted continued to govern the diocese as Apostolic Administrator until James S. Wall was appointed bishop of Gallup and took canonical possession of the Diocese on 23 April 2009.

On Monday, July 8, 2008, KRQE News Thirteen in Albuquerque investigated the Pelotte case. Pictures that were hidden from the case, indicated that he suffered severe blows to the head, and back, not indicating a fall, but a possible beating. The case was closed, however, and never recalled the situation.[7]

Pelotte was hospitalized in critical condition, with his relatives at his side, on December 30, 2009; He died on January 7, 2010. The Vigil Prayer Service for Bishop Emeritus Pelotte will be at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, January 13, 2010. The Funeral Mass for Bishop Pelotte will be the following day, Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 11:00 AM. Both services will be at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup. After the Mass, he will be buried in the crypt of the Cathedral, per his wishes.[8]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Jerome J. Hastrich
Bishop of Gallup
31 March 1990–30 April 2008
Succeeded by
James S. Wall


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Brotherly love - Bishop Donald E. Pelotte ordains twin brother, Dana F. Pelotte". National Catholic Reporter (The Gale Group). 1999-09-17. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  
  3. ^ a b "Most Rev. Donald E. Pelotte". Diocese of Gallup. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  
  4. ^ Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola (2007-08-04). "Bishop moved from ICU". Gallup Independent. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  
  5. ^ Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola (2008-01-04). "Pope steps in". Gallup Independent. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  
  6. ^ Cf. Holy See Press Office, Daily Bulletin of 30.04.2008, Rinunce e nomine, Rinuncia del Vescovo di Gallup (U.S.A.) (Italian)
  7. ^
  8. ^


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