‘Sede Vacante’ no longer — Bishop Michael Olson ordained and installed as diocese’s fourth bishop

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

Photos by Donna Ryckaert

January 30, 2014

Bishop Michael Olson sits in the “cathedra,” the chair of the bishop, signifying that he is the bishop of Fort Worth. He was escorted to the cathedra by his predecessor, Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, California (left), and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio (right).

Bishop Michael Olson sits in the “cathedra,” the chair of the bishop, signifying that he is the bishop of Fort Worth. He was escorted to the cathedra by his Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., (left), and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio (right).

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Approximately 8,500 Catholics from across North Texas and beyond traveled to the Fort Worth Convention Center Jan. 29 to watch one of their own diocesan priests, Michael Fors Olson, become the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth during an ordination Mass steeped in tradition, ritual, and majesty.

Thunderous applause erupted from the audience, as the newly ordained bishop circled the convention center arena to greet the assembly at the close of the three-hour ceremony. Some journeyed by bus from as far away as Muenster, Pilot Point, and Wichita Falls to meet the new leader of their diocese.

“Being here today shows that we’re part of something bigger than just our little community,” said Bailey Walterscheid, who waited with eager anticipation for the liturgical procession of honor guards, papal orders, and clergy to begin. The Muenster resident and Sacred Heart High School senior had never witnessed an ordination before but met the new bishop through her uncle, Father Kyle Walterscheid, pastor of Bl. John Paul II Parish in Denton.

“He’s a nice man, and I think he’ll be a good bishop and role model,” she said.

As the metropolitan archbishop of the San Antonio Province, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller served as principal consecrator when he performed the sacred rite of ordination. In his remarks, he advised the 47-year-old bishop-elect to exercise his ministry effectively by “getting close to people”— especially the lowly, the broken-hearted, the imprisoned, and those who mourn.

Bishop-elect Michael Olson lies prostrate before the altar during the “Litany of Saints” immediately before his ordination as bishop. In front of him are principal consecrator Archbishop Garcia-Siller (center), and principal co-consecrators Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston (left) and Bishop Vann (right).
Bishop-elect Michael Olson lies prostrate before the altar during the “Litany of Saints” immediately before his ordination as bishop. In front of him are principal consecrator Archbishop Garcia-Siller (center), and principal co-consecrators Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston (left) and his predecessor Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, California (right).

“Be close so you can touch them with the healing power that can only come from God,” he said. “No matter how confusing, messy, or bewildering life may seem, you will encounter the Lord in the lives of the people you serve.”

The 28-county diocese has been without a leader since Fort Worth’s third bishop, Kevin Vann left to become the Bishop of Orange, California, in December 2012. Newly ordained Bishop Michael Olson now leads the fast rapidly growing diocese which has an estimated 710,000 Catholics, 90 parishes, and 22 schools. A native of Illinois, he is the first priest ordained in the Diocese of Fort Worth to be named a bishop. Another diocesan priest, Monsignor Stephen J. Berg, who has served as diocesan administrator until the ordination of Bishop Olson, was appointed to become bishop of Pueblo, Colorado on Jan. 15. His ordination is set for Feb. 27.

Prior to becoming Bishop-elect, Msgr. Michael Olson served as rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving where he is credited with boosting enrollment and improving the quality of priestly formation provided there. Seminarians from Holy Trinity and several other seminaries were invited to participate in the procession that included 43 bishops, approximately 230 priests, and 60 deacons.

“Serving at today’s ordination is an honor,” said Jason Allan, a second-year student at Holy Trinity. “We’re all going to miss him at Holy Trinity, but I’m glad he’s now our bishop.”

Bishop Vann and Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston served as principal co-consecrators, with the remaining bishops and archbishops present also acting as co-consecrators. Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, read the Apostolic Mandate from His Holiness Pope Francis naming Monsignor Olson to the fullness of the priesthood as Bishop of Fort Worth.

Archbishop Gacria-Siller lays hands on Bishop Olson, ordaining him to the episcopate. Behind him are Archbishop Fiorenza (left), and Bishop Vann (right).
Archbishop Gacria-Siller lays hands on Bishop Olson, ordaining him to the episcopate. Behind him are Archbishop Fiorenza (left), and Bishop Vann (right).

He reminded the bishop-elect that in the recent Apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis highlighted what he considered the outstanding responsibilities of a bishop and asked each one to foster a diocesan church that is dynamic, open, and missionary in purpose like the first Christian communities.

“As you faithfully teach, govern and sanctify in the name of the Good Shepherd, we are confident that you will bring the joy of the Gospel both to the flock entrusted to you as well as the community at large,” Archbishop Viganò said.

Before the ordination Mass concluded, Bishop Olson addressed the crowd from the flower-decorated altar which featured an 18-foot crucifix loaned by the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Arlington.

He thanked clergy for their presence and his family for “giving me the gift of life and the gift of faith,” then asked the congregation to respond to Pope Francis’ call for a missionary conversion and a return to the basics of discipleship — The Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, the Gospel, and the Mystery of the Cross.

“Fear has no place in the life of a disciple,” Bishop Olson asserted. “Conversion is not a matter of climbing the rough staircase of fear, but of being raised up to God by the gift of love.”

See Also

On eve of ordination, Bishop-elect Olson takes Oath of Fidelity

Bps-Vann-_-Olson-signing-Oath-BUTTON.jpgOn the evening before he was ordained as the fourth bishop of Fort Worth, Bishop-elect Michael Fors Olson received some sage advice from a friend and former classmate. “Get to know your flock — their difficulties, trials, tribulations, joys, and triumphs,” counseled Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico during a Solemn Vespers service celebrated Jan. 28 in St. Patrick Cathedral. “And allow them to get to know you so they encounter the Good Shepherd through your love.”

New shepherd has always led by example [VIDEO]

Bp-Olson-Waving-BUTTON.jpgThe ordination and installation of the fourth bishop in the 45–year history of the Diocese of Fort Worth, celebrated Jan. 29 at the Fort Worth Convention Center, showed Bishop Michael F. Olson at his finest. It was not his new bishop’s ring, miter, or staff — outward, visible symbols of the shepherd of the Church — but his humility and respect for the miracle of life that distinguished him this day. That’s the way his former professor, Dr. John McCarthy of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., saw it. What stood out most to McCarthy during the splendorous 3-hour ordination event was a specific moment when Bishop Olson brought about a standing ovation, not for himself, but for his parents.

Bp-Olson-Laying-of-Hands-BUTTON.jpgApproximately 8,500 Catholics from across North Texas and beyond traveled to the Fort Worth Convention Center Jan. 29 to watch one of their own diocesan priests, Monsignor Michael Fors Olson, become the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth during an ordination Mass steeped in tradition, ritual, and majesty. Thunderous applause erupted from the audience, as the newly ordained bishop circled the convention center arena to greet the assembly at the close of the three-hour ceremony. Some journeyed by bus from as far away as Muenster, Pilot Point, and Wichita Falls to meet the new leader of their diocese.

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