Thursday, March 11, 2010

For Big D, High Hats

In just the latest sign of the church's rise in the Lone Star State, the Pope has named twin auxiliaries for the 1.2 million-member diocese of Dallas, which has grown sixfold since 1990.

Tapped to aid Bishop Kevin Farrell (who's now blogging) at the helm of the Big D church, Fr J. Douglas Deshotel and Msgr Mark Seitz are the first auxiliaries given the diocese since the boom.

Both born elsewhere, the duo have served their entire priesthoods in pastoral, seminary and administrative posts across North Texas: Bishop-elect Deshotel, 58, is currently Farrell's vicar-general, while Bishop-elect Seitz, 56 -- a specialist in bioethics -- has led a North Dallas parish since 2003.

Until Bishop Joe Vasquez's January elevation to Austin, Dallas had been the largest Stateside diocese without an auxiliary; since then, the distinction's belonged to the 1.3 million-member archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, whose already-pending petition for one assistant bishop was upgraded to two following the 52 year-old prelate's appointment to lead Texas' capital diocese.

Before this morning's moves, the last time a US diocese received a double-shot of auxiliaries came in 2006, when Bishops John Dooher and Robert Henessey were named to aid Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap.

As ever, more to come.

SVILUPPO: Statements and all, the Dallas diocese's page already has a portal up and running on the auxiliaries-elect... alongside announcing their joint ordination for Tuesday, 27 April at the city's Catedral Santuario de Guadalupe (above left).

SVILUPPO 2: Per custom, the Appointment Day presser has been scheduled for 11am local time... and in a useful bit of context, the Morning News notes that Seitz had "made headlines" last November for donating a kidney to one of his parishioners.

"We follow the model of one who literally gave his life for us," he said at the time.

"If he can lay down his life, I can give away a kidney."

Dubbed "a popular and energetic priest" by the Big D daily, the bishop-elect dabbles in roller-blading... and his statement today features an according tone:
When Bishop Farrell informed me that I was chosen to be an auxiliary bishop he prefaced it by saying that he was about to turn my life upside down. He certainly spoke the truth. From my earliest memories I have felt drawn to the priesthood. Nothing seemed like it could compare to the chance to give my life to God in this way and to serve people by offering them the greatest of His gifts. Maybe it was a result of growing up as the eldest of ten. Parish communities felt like home to me.

After high school in Wisconsin, where I was born, I found myself here in Irving at Holy Trinity Seminary. When it came time to make a decision as to which diocese I would commit to serve, I realized I had fallen in love with the Diocese of Dallas, a small young church, that was growing rapidly and that had imbibed the same never-say-never, can-do spirit you will find all through north Texas.

While in these past nearly 30 years of priestly ministry I never had a doubt that I was called to parish ministry. For all of its daily challenges and trials this service has brought me great joy.

But God is the Lord of my life. I have learned through the years that following Christ is an adventure filled with totally unexpected dips and turns. When you give your life to His service you better learn to enjoy the ride.

So now, as the Bishop predicted, I am upside down. I trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in this shocking decision of the Holy Father. I want to assure His Holiness and my ordinary, Bishop Farrell, that I will serve with all that is in me.
Returning to the diocese at large, in an Election Sunday report on his aforementioned blog, the K.Far noted that the Dallas church will welcome a staggering 3,000 adults into the fold come Easter -- 800 catechumens, 2,200 candidates.

At Easter 2008, just two parishes in the Big D diocese received a combined 500 adults. As the bishop subsequently said in an interview, while the widely-circulated Pew report released earlier that year had "valid points" on the spiraling decline facing much of the Stateside church, "it does not apply to the experience in Dallas."

And, well, 'nuff said.