One of my favorite books, which is an easy read as well, is entitled Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way by Pope John Paul II. This work follows an earlier work entitled Gift and Mystery. Both narrate, in his own words, the life of Blessed John Paul II. Gift and Mystery is about his early years up to his priesthood ordination. Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way is the narration of his life from the time he was nominated as Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow until his election as the Bishop of Rome. In the last chapter of Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way, he ends with the following words:
…On another occasion, to the same three disciples, Jesus said “Rise, and do not be afraid!” (Matt. 17:7). God’s love does not impose burdens upon us that we cannot carry, nor make demands of us that we cannot fulfill. For whatever He asks of us, He provides the help that is needed. I say this from the place to which the love of Christ Our Savior has led me, asking of me that I should leave my native land so as to bring forth fruit elsewhere through his grace — fruit that will last (cf. John 15:16). Echoing the words of our Lord and Master, I too say to each of you, dear brothers in the episcopate, “Rise, let us be on our way!” Let us go forth full of trust in Christ. He will accompany us as we journey toward the goal that He alone knows.
These words were very prophetic for me, as the above book was given to me by a good priest friend of mine when I was sent here as Bishop Delaney’s co-adjutor in 2005, and succeeded him at his untimely death. I did, indeed, have to rise and be on my way, to follow the Lord where He called me to journey with you as the Shepherd here in our wonderful diocese. These last seven years have been years of great blessing for me personally as together, many things have been able to be accomplished as a response of faith to the Lord who calls us to be his people. I thank you for your generosity, faith, and love in so many ways.
On Sept. 7, the above words of the Lord became a reality for me again when the Holy Father’s representative to our country, Archbishop Vigano, called me to let me know that Pope Benedict XVI has named me as the fourth Bishop of Orange in California. As I said to the staff at the Marywood Pastoral Center in Orange two weeks ago, I love the people of North Texas very much, and you indeed have become my family. This will be now a year of great transition, with the death of my mother, leaving here, and moving to Orange. But I trust in the same Lord who led me here among you, and now asks me to follow Him to the Diocese of Orange.
Even though geographically very different in square miles than Fort Worth (one county of 700 square miles, as opposed to 28 counties of 24,000 square miles), the Catholic population is about 1,300,000 or 40 percent of the population. The Diocese of Orange has many of the same cultural groups that we have here, only more. There is the practice of a vibrant faith, where the challenge is building and expansion. And there is the recent purchase of the Crystal Cathedral (the future Christ Cathedral), which truly is a “gift from God” as Bishop Brown has noted, and it’s being shaped into a Catholic Cathedral.
Many people have been asking what happens now in Fort Worth. After my Installation, Fort Worth will become an empty see or sede vacante. The new Diocesan Administrator will be elected by a group of senior priests from within the diocese known as the College of Consultors. The priest who is elected will then maintain the day-to-day activities of the diocese, but without the authority of a bishop. The diocese will then wait for a new bishop to be assigned from Pope Benedict XVI. Please begin praying, as will I, for the new Bishop of Fort Worth.
With all of my heart, I thank you for your commitment of faith, and your goodness and support to me in moments of blessing and moments of challenge. Your stewardship of time, talent, and treasure are helping to take the
Diocese of Fort Worth into a future full of hope, as we build on a legacy of faith and leadership since the diocese was founded in 1969.
My installation as the Bishop of Orange will take place on December 9 and 10, with Evening Prayer on December 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the future Christ Cathedral Arboretum and the Installation Mass on December 10 at 2 p.m. at the University of California Irvine Bren Events Center.
Please pray for me in these times of transition, as I do for you. I continue to live, with the help of God, the motto which came to me when I was appointed bishop: “Do everything in faith and love in Christ Jesus.”
God bless you always.