January 30, 2014
Bishop Vann signs the Oath of Fidelity that had been read aloud by Bishop-elect Olson, certifying that it had been done. (Photo by Juan Guajardo / NTC)
On 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.”
Bishop Cantú, who delivered the homily, attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston with the bishop-elect and is the youngest prelate in the United States to lead a diocese.
The evening Vespers coincided with the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas and the New Mexico bishop honored the doctor of the Church in his sermon.
“He (St. Thomas Aquinas) learned from the great thinkers who came before him and dialogued with the great thinkers of his day in order to solve the issues of his time,” the bishop explained.
In the same way, he asked Bishop-elect Olson to “hold dear” the traditions and heritage of the Church in dealing with the challenges of today’s society.
“Dialogue with the contemporary world to defend human dignity in every stage of life from conception to natural death,” he urged. “Stand up for the dignity of those who have no voice and those on the margins of society. Allow the splendor of God’s truth to be disclosed in today’s world.”
During the Vespers, former Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann, who now leads the Diocese of Orange, California, blessed the pastoral ring, staff, and miter Bishop-elect Olson would receive the following day. The bishop-elect also took the Oath of Fidelity, promising to faithfully execute the responsibilities of the Office of Bishop, and to submit to the Church.
Former Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann, now of Orange, California, blesses the symbols of office. (Photo by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen / NTC)
Bishop-elect Olson then received the public congratulations of Fort Worth’s civil and ecumenical leaders including Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Rabbi Andrew Bloom of the Congregation Ahavath Sholom.
Before the worship service ended, Bishop-elect Olson addressed the gathering and talked about the importance of placing the common good before the needs of the individual. Individualism creates selfishness, greed, and resentment.
“Too often, and sadly, it leads to violence and the destruction of the human person, especially the weakest members of society who are not able to exert their individualism,” he said.
Rights and individualism are often linked, the bishop-elect continued. But, instead of becoming a positive force that connects people, rights are used as weapons that create distance and draw people away from the common good.
“When we speak of rights, we should think first of responsibilities. Rights with responsibility connect us and help us flourish as human beings, not simply as individuals, but for the common good.”
In addition to the cathedral choir, the congregation heard a rendition of “You Are the Shepherd” by students from Our Mother of Mercy School. The diocese closed schools Jan. 29 so students could attend the ordination.
Erin Vader, Our Mother of Mercy principal, said her students loved being included in the ordination celebration.
“I think it really shows Bishop Olson’s commitment to Catholic education,” she said, especially to those students in the inner-city.
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, 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.
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.
On 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.”