Tuesday, May 01, 2007

D-Day for K-Far

On this feast of St Joseph the Worker -- an occasion when the church's teaching on the rights and dignity of immigrants is particularly highlighted -- one of the US dioceses that's experienced explosive growth thanks to American Catholicism's Latino infusion formally gets its new shepherd, as Kevin Farrell is installed as the seventh bishop of Dallas and leader of its flock of over one million.

Suffice it to say, the visiting clerics are getting into the local spirit... even if there was nothing planned for non-locals last night. The prelate of the hour is shown at left during last evening's Vespers service in Big D's Catedral Santuario de Guadalupe.

In its big lead-in, the Morning News spoke of the "high hopes [and] growth pains" that mark the 59 year-old Farrell's entrance into the heart of Texas:
He'll start his tenure by bringing plenty of humility – and getting plenty of advice.

While settling into Dallas last week, he offered a bit of Scripture that seemed particularly apt: the story from the Gospel of Luke about the Apostles caught in a boat during a storm.

"I guess they are only comforted by the fact that they know that God or Christ is with them. I am also comforted," he said.

He'll surely bring significant changes to the diocese Bishop Grahmann has led since 1990. But the new bishop is asking for patience: He's long on hopes but short on details.

"I just have what I would call a general knowledge of how the Diocese of Dallas functions and works," he said. "I have tried to follow it as much as I can from a distance of a three-hour plane flight. It's not that easy to do."...

"What is going to be my agenda? What am I going to do new or different? I wish I knew. That would make my life a lot easier," he said. "I wish there were a textbook written on all of this. There aren't any such things."

Despite his scriptural reference to a storm, the new bishop is more likely to find a honeymoon than a hurricane, at least initially. Even some critics of the diocese under Bishop Grahmann say they're looking forward to meeting the new man.

Bill Betzen is a former diocesan counselor who became an outspoken critic of Bishop Grahmann's handling of clergy sex abuse scandals.

"Hopefully, he's a very saintly man who is very comfortable with coming out and answering the questions people put to him," said Mr. Betzen, now a middle school teacher. "He's going to have some very uncomfortable questions. As long as he doesn't run from them, we've taken a major step forward."
The paper's website, dallasnews.com, will live-stream the Installation Mass beginning at 2pm local time (1900GMT).

Robert Bunch/The Texas Catholic