Msgr. Michael F. Olson named fourth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

North Texas Catholic

November 19, 2013

Editor’s Note: For coverage of Bishop-Elect Olson’s press conference, click here.

When organizers planning the closing ceremony for the Diocese of Fort Worth’s observation of the Year of Faith needed someone to reflect on Pope Francis’ first encyclical Lumen Fidei, they turned to a spiritual leader well-versed in guiding others toward the light of faith.

They had no idea how prophetic that decision would become.

Monsignor Michael F. Olson’s lecture on Lumen Fidei — set for this Sunday, Nov. 24 at Blessed Sacrament Church — will mark his first public appearance as bishop-elect of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Pope Francis has named the 47-year-old local diocesan priest to be the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth. The long-awaited announcement came from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, the Apostolic Nuncio of the United States, on Nov. 19. Bishop-elect Olson succeeds Bishop Kevin W. Vann who was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Orange in California in September 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. The ceremony to ordain and install the new bishop is set for Jan. 29, 2014 at 2 p.m. in the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Ordained on June 3, 1994 by the late Bishop Joseph P. Delaney at St. Patrick Cathedral, Bishop-elect Olson is the first priest ordained for the Diocese of Fort Worth to become a bishop. He also will be the second youngest bishop in the United States to currently lead a diocese. Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, a fellow graduate of St. Mary Seminary in Houston, and a friend of Bishop-elect Olson, is the youngest.

“I am very humbled and deeply moved by Pope Francis’ appointment of me to serve as the bishop of Fort Worth,” he said. “In a very special way, I am delighted to return home to the Diocese of Fort Worth to serve the priests, deacons, religious, and all of the faithful as their bishop.”

Since July 2008, Bishop-elect Olson has directed the formation of young men studying for the priesthood as rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in the Diocese of Dallas. Prior to that, he was Vicar General for the Diocese of Fort Worth and pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Church in White Settlement. Following his ordination, the young priest worked as an associate pastor at St. Michael Church in Bedford.

When Father Olson was appointed rector at Holy Trinity, he said his work with seminarians gave him the opportunity to share the joy of his vocation with others discerning a call to religious life.

“I am grateful to God for my life as a priest,” he said at the time. “It has certainly been one filled with joy and opportunities I never imagined. I am excited and thrilled to now be a part of guiding other men in their journey toward the priesthood.”

His role as shepherd will take on a new dimension when he becomes leader of one of the fastest growing dioceses in the country. The Diocese of Fort Worth has 710,000 Catholics. 89 parishes and two missions, and encompasses 28 counties of North Central Texas.

Impressive academics and experience as a parochial vicar, pastor, formation adviser, hospital ethicist, and diocesan administrator has prepared him for the task.

Bishop-elect Olson was the recipient of the Basselin Scholarship at the Catholic University of America where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy in 1988 and 1989.  In 1997, he entered St. Louis University Center for Health Care Ethics for doctoral studies and remained there through June 2001. From July 2001 to May 2006, he served as formation adviser at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.

A respected priest devoted to ministry, Monsignor Olson is a frequent participant in the Good Friday Vigil for Life rosary.

He also recognizes and supports the dedication of others who serve the Church. In 2011, Msgr. Olson praised the efforts of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur who educated Catholic youth in Fort Worth and other places in Texas. “These institutions you formed were imbued by your mission to love God,” he said in his homily at a Jubilee Mass. “Your generosity and an apostolic heart permitted them to proclaim and pass on the Gospel in a new way.”

Born in Park Ridge, Illinois to Ronald G. and Janice Fetzer Olson, Bishop-elect Olson has three sisters, Mary Elizabeth Rogers, Patricia Tucker, and Lizbeth Schweitzer. He began seminarian studies for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1984 but moved to Fort Worth when his parents relocated here.

SEE ALSO 

Bishop-Elect Olson says at press conference he is ‘humbled’ by trust of Holy Father

BpDes-Olson-Waving-BUTTON.jpgLocal Catholics who know Bishop-Elect Michael F. Olson share a common observation about the man who will become the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth — he loves his role as servant priest. “I am consoled by the fact being a bishop means experiencing the fullness of the priesthood,” Bishop-Elect Olson said during a Nov. 19 press conference that introduced him to the Fort Worth media. “It means I can use this ministry for the good of all.”

Appointment of diocese’s only home-grown bishop a pleasant surprise to local Catholics

BpElect-Olson-Press-Conference-BUTTON.jpgFather Christopher Stainbrook still remembers the trepidation his parishioners felt when St. Timothy, an Anglican congregation, decided to join the Catholic Church as part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. “People were unsure and feared leaving the familiar for the unknown,” the pastor explains. Monsignor Michael F. Olson, who instructed parish members on the Sacrament of Confirmation, eased their anxiety. “He made a whole room full of people feel relaxed and welcomed,” Fr. Stainbrook recalls. “My parishioners are going to be very happy that he’s their new bishop. He’s a teacher — a real people person.”

 

When organizers planning the closing ceremony for the Diocese of Fort Worth’s observation of the Year of Faith needed someone to reflect on Pope Francis’ first encyclical Lumen Fidei, they turned to a spiritual leader well-versed in guiding others toward the light of faith.

Published (until 12/31/2031)
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