New shepherd has always led by example

By Jerry Circelli

Correspondent

Video by Kathy Cribari Hamer

January 30, 2014

NTC Correspondent Kathy Cribari Hamer gets reactions from Catholics who attended Bishop Michael Olson's ordination and installation as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth Jan. 29, 2014. (Video by Kathy Cribari Hamer / NTC)

The 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.

In the arena, filled nearly to capacity, Bishop Olson said, “I promised my father that I would not make him stand up. So I won’t. But I’d ask everybody else to do so. I thank my mother and my father, and my whole family in particular, for the gift of life and the gift of faith. Thank you very much.”

With that, the entire crowd of 8,500 people in the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena rose to its feet in applause.

McCarthy, who made the trip from the nation’s capital, said Bishop Olson’s tribute to his parents will forever be the fondest memory of his former student’s installation that night.

“That was a beautiful moment,” said McCarthy. “And a real way to honor your parents. I can’t imagine a parent being honored more greatly, as they should be honored, because he recognized that his own vocation came from their fidelity and their love.”

The moment was also a way for the bishop to show his new flock of Catholic faithful in North Texas the importance he places on the sanctity of life, without lecturing, but through leading by example. Such was the strength, wisdom, and grace of God’s servant, Michael F. Olson, witnessed by his former professor and thousands from throughout the diocese during his ordination and installation.

Ronald and Janice Olson — seated front and center with their children at the ordination — were proud of their son this day.

“This was just so wonderful,” Bishop Olson’s father, Ronald, said. The elder Olson relocated his family from the Chicago area to Fort Worth in 1985, and in 1988 his son officially transferred as a seminarian to Fort Worth. “He’s made so many friends here so quickly,” his father said, as he looked around the packed arena after the ordination Mass. “And he’s just loved the people and loved the Church.”

Mitzi Rogers, one of the bishop’s sisters who lives with her family in North Richland Hills, said the reality of the fact that her brother was now bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth really didn’t hit home until the evening before the ordination, during a special prayer service at St. Patrick Cathedral.

“Last night at Vespers, it just sort of became real,” Rogers said after the ordination. “And just to see him up there today for the ordination and the turnout, everyone who came for him, it was just amazing.

“It seems that he’s part of everybody’s family from what we’re hearing,” she continued. “People come up and introduce themselves, and they say, ‘Oh, you’re the bishop’s family. We feel like he’s part of our family, too.’”

As far as their own family, Rogers said the bishop was always a good older brother. Another sister, Patty Tucker, also from North Richland Hills, added that their brother “always had our backs.”

They both said their brother has been dedicated to the Church for as long as they can remember.

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Bishop Olson waves to all those gathered as he walks around the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena shortly after his ordination. (Photo by Jerry Circelli / NTC)

“He is just really driven,” said Rogers. “He wanted to be a priest from early on, from second grade, and he’s always been a good holy man. God has always been in his life.”

Tucker added, “He has always been strong in his faith.”

Both sisters said they were happy that their brother was named bishop here in the Diocese of Fort Worth. “We are excited that we get to keep him,” Rogers said.

Also happy that Bishop Olson will remain in the area is the Sanchez family of Bedford.

Though not blood relatives, you can count them among the many who say Bishop Olson is part of their family. They waited in a long, meandering line for their chance to greet and congratulate the new bishop during a reception in a large room near the arena where the ordination was held. Sandy Sanchez held a copy of the North Texas Catholic Special Ordination Edition containing a 1994 image of then-Father Olson with a group of youngsters at St. Michael Church in Bedford.

“That’s Ricky in the white shirt right there,” the proud mother said, pointing out her son with other youngsters gathered around the then associate pastor Father Olson in the photograph. Now a grown man with a family of his own, Ricky Sanchez explained the picture and brought it to life.

“It was a post-confirmation group we had in high school called Acts 12,” Sanchez said. “We’d get together weekly. We just found a way to live our faith life together. Father Mike led us and started the group. Many of us still keep contact with one another today.

“I look back after 20 years,” Sanchez continued, “and it was a blessing that he was in my life when he was. And I think a lot of the guys would say the same thing. We were young men, and he challenged us. He just lit us on fire at that age, on fire for Christ. He has a really good way of relating to youth and just pumping them up.”

Sanchez continued, “He was somebody who was a beacon to educate you, but he did it in a way that you could hear as a teenager.”

Further proof of the bishop’s ability to lead new generations toward Christ, Sanchez said, is evident in the work he has done with those studying for the priesthood at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, where he served as rector since 2008.

One of those seminarians, Michael Baynham, graduated from Holy Trinity Seminary two years ago and is studying now at the Theological College at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is in his sixth year of seminary studies for the Diocese of Dallas, with the goal of being ordained as a priest in 2017.

Baynham traveled from Washington, D.C., to Fort Worth for the ordination of the man who was his early personal formation advisor on the journey to priesthood.

The seminarian and his family were warmly greeted by the new bishop at the reception following the ordination.

Before departing, Baynham looked back at the bishop as he continued to greet the long line of well-wishers.

“He was a phenomenal rector,” Baynham said. “A great pastor. A great Christian.

“You could always tell that he really loved being a priest. And he loved sharing his priesthood with others, especially with us as seminarians.”

Baynham said his biggest takeaway from the day was “just seeing a close mentor of mine being ordained a bishop and being filled with hope for the Church, because I know who he is, what type of Christian he is. I know he will be a great leader and pastor for the Diocese of Fort Worth.”

David LaPointe, a first-year seminarian at Holy Trinity Seminary, said Bishop Olson had also been his formation advisor. “He was my external formator, so when I set goals for the seminary, it was with him, and we would talk on a regular basis and discuss how things are going moving forward, and maybe things we need to work on.”

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Hours before his ordination, Bishop-elect Olson and diocesan seminarians go through a rehearsal of the liturgy. (Photo by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen / NTC)

Even though he has witnessed his rector and advisor being elevated to bishop, LaPointe said he has seen no difference in his relationship with the man he has come to respect. He has remained in contact with the bishop and is happy about the new papal appointment.

“It’s good because he’s a likable man; he’s a very holy man. He’s someone a lot of guys look up to, so it’s like he went from one level of [being] my boss to the next level. And it’s a beautiful thing.”

LaPointe added, “There’s no difference; he’s the same guy. It’s just I have to say ‘Bishop Olson’ instead of ‘Monsignor’ now.”

Another man who will have to keep reminding himself about the bishop’s new clerical title is Chuck Pelletier, who heads up the Mother and Unborn Baby Care Center and Catholics United For Life of North Texas. A man who has worked tirelessly for decades to protect the rights of the unborn and help mothers through crisis pregnancies, Pelletier was among the first to congratulate Bishop Olson on his installation.

Pelletier said he first met Bishop Olson through pro-life activities when the new shepherd of the diocese was still a seminarian. They forged a fast friendship that continues to this day.

This was not the first time Pelletier and his wife, Pat, have witnessed one of the Church’s sacramental ceremonies conferring clerical responsibilities on Bishop Olson.

“He’s part of our life and this is our third ordination,” Pelletier said. “We’ve been to his ordination as transitional deacon, priest, and now bishop.”

To watch his friend’s progress from ordination as a deacon in 1993 to ordination as a priest in 1994 and then ordination as bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth 20 years later “is just mind-blowing,” Pelletier said.

“This has all just come together in a beautiful way. We just thank God that He has given us another great bishop,” Pelletier said. “He has such joy in his heart. You just want to be around somebody who has that kind of joy and holiness in him.

“People are going to love him once they get to know him,” Pelletier predicted. “And they are going to get to know him because he is going to be out there with them.”

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.”

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

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.

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.

Published (until 1/30/2114)
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