Bishop’s mother remembered for faith, devotion, and smile

North Texas Catholic

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

June 20, 2014

Janice Fetzer OlsonJanice Fetzer Olson, the mother of Fort Worth Bishop Michael F. Olson, was remembered for her unshakeable faith, devotion to family and infectious smile following her June 15 death.

“She raised us with such love and taught us to always laugh, have fun, be strong in our faith and not take life too seriously,” said Mitzi Rogers, one of Mrs. Olson’s three daughters. “We love our mother and feel her loss every day but take comfort in knowing she is at peace in the arms of the Lord.”

Relatives and friends filled St. Patrick Cathedral on June 19 for a Mass of Christian Burial concelebrated by Bishop Olson, former Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann and 75 priests. An interment service was held at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois—the family’s hometown.

A corporate relocation brought the Olson family to Fort Worth in 1985. Janice Olson worked as a clerical administrator for GTE until her retirement in 1997. She was a member of St. Michael Church and served in the Stephen Ministry.

Earlier this year, Mrs. Olson sat with her husband, Ron, in the front row of the Fort Worth Convention Center and watched as their only son, Michael, was ordained the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

“We’re just very proud of him. It’s a wonderful feeling,” she said at the January 29 ceremony.

Family members feared the bustle of ordination activities would tire the 75-year-old matriarch but she seemed physically buoyed by the experience.

“She just enjoyed seeing the family come together,” Rogers said. “And she would have loved her service today and seeing all those priests on the altar. My mom would have been so pleased with the outpouring of love and support for the family and for Michael.”

The Fort Worth bishop always credits his parents for setting an example of faith that laid the foundation for his vocation to the priesthood. In his homily, the bishop recalled how a family trip to California, when he was six-years-old, led to some interesting discussions with his mother about Holy Water, Hail Marys and the value of both when a wheel comes off a car in the middle of an Arizona desert. Before the journey, Janice Olson sprinkled the automobile with Holy Water and led the family in a Hail Mary to ensure “nothing bad happens to us and we bring God and the Blessed Mother with us.”

So, standing on a desert roadside near the disabled vehicle, a young, inquisitive Michael Olson asked his mother matter-of-factly, “I thought you blessed the car. What happened?”

Her answer revealed a trusting, deeply-rooted faith.

“Think how much worse things could be if we didn’t have God with us,” she responded. “Maybe this was the best way God had of protecting us from something worse down the road.”

The bishop said our life lived as the Church is a journey we can only make together and comes to a full understanding in the Breaking of the Bread.

“My mother’s life was part of that journey that she shared with her family, friends and her Church,” he said. “We believe and pray she has reached her real and intended destination of the new Jerusalem and she waits for us with Christ, his Blessed Mother and all the saints.” The congregation attending Mrs. Olson funeral Mass included seminarians from Holy Trinity Seminary where Bishop Olson served as rector and representatives from various diocesan offices, boards and apostolates.

Heather Reynolds, executive director of Catholic Charities Fort Worth, said her presence was a way to support the bishop and honor his mother.

“His mom had to be an absolutely amazing woman. Look at the man she raised and the faith she instilled through her words and actions,” Reynolds explained. “That’s the type of life you want to celebrate.”

Mrs. Olson was predeceased by a daughter, Kimberlee Ann Olson. She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Ronald Olson; children, Bishop Michael F. Olson, Mitzi Rogers and husband, Richard, Patty Tucker and husband, Tom, and Liz Schweizer and husband, Kurt, their children, Alyssa and Kiersten; and grandchildren, Katie and Matthew Tucker.

Memorials can be made to the Olson Family Seminary Burse, Advancement Foundation, Diocese of Fort Worth, 800 W. Loop 820 South, Fort Worth, Texas 76108 or the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, 909 W. Shaw, Fort Worth, Texas 76110.


Janice Fetzer OlsonJanice Fetzer Olson, the mother of Fort Worth Bishop Michael F. Olson, was remembered for her unshakeable faith, devotion to family and infectious smile following her June 15 death.

Published (until 12/12/2031)