As our Diocese continues to grow, we are all asked to develop an apostolic heart

By Bishop Michael Olson

North Texas Catholic

8/18/2014

EN ESPAÑOL

So much has happened that it is very difficult for me to admit that it has been six months since my ordination and installation as the Bishop of Fort Worth. The clergy, religious, and laity have overwhelmed me with their zeal and love for their Catholic faith. My visits to our parishes, schools, campus ministry sites, and other ministries have reaffirmed the warm and gracious assessment offered to me by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Apostolic Nuncio, at the end of the ordination liturgy celebrated with 10,000 people at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Jan. 29, 2014: “I will share with the Holy Father that the Church in Fort Worth is very much alive and flourishing.”

The scope of the Nuncio’s statement took on new depth when I reviewed the demographic reports about current and projected population growth within the Diocese, especially in Tarrant, Denton, Johnson, Wise, and Parker Counties. While the numbers of people (and of Catholics in particular) estimated to move into the Fort Worth Diocese involves rapid increase, our projected growth is only staggering when we view it without faith or hope as a problem and not as a call from the Lord to share our faith, to spread the Gospel, to promote priestly vocations, to reach out to the poor, and to welcome the immigrant, and to receive the gifts that our brothers and sisters will offer us as we work together to establish new parishes, schools, and to strengthen our existing ministries.

This good news of our growth in numbers will inform and guide the pastoral plan that is urgently required to meet the needs of our local Church. I intend to undertake the formation of this plan through legitimate pastoral consultation that is actionable and more than the paralysis induced by consultative process for process’ sake. Time is of the essence. The formation and implementation of such a plan can only begin after we take stock in gratitude of the gifts that God has given us to develop for the sake of the mission of evangelization. This mission must drive our diocesan institutions, not the other way around.

The formation and implementation of a pastoral plan will call all of us and each of us to sacrifice for the sake of the spread of the Gospel in growing areas of our diocese. Through this discernment, God will ask each of us — clergy, religious, and laity — to develop an apostolic heart and to give of ourselves joyfully and generously for the sake of providing for the pastoral needs of those newly arrived in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Each of us must be prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of others. This charitable disposition will enable us to continue to evangelize the unchurched members of our society as well as those of us who are initiated but insufficiently catechized in the substance of our Faith. This generosity must especially be directed to priorities of discipleship that include: outreach to the poor, prayer for and active encouragement of priestly and religious vocations, and the catechetical and spiritual formation in the sacramental life of our youth and young adults.

The Lord is entrusting each of us with a particular share in his mission to evangelize. I am asking each of us to pray for gratitude for this gift and to ask Him for his wisdom to guide our decisions that we each will make to work for the spread of the Gospel and for the healthy and steady growth of his Church. How much God has blessed us to live and to serve Him in these times!

So much has happened that it is very difficult for me to admit that it has been six months since my ordination and installation as the Bishop of Fort Worth. The clergy, religious, and laity have overwhelmed me with their zeal and love for their Catholic faith. My visits to our parishes, schools, campus ministry sites, and other ministries have reaffirmed the warm and gracious assessment offered to me by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Apostolic Nuncio, at the end of the ordination liturgy celebrated with 10,000 people at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Jan. 29, 2014: “I will share with the Holy Father that the Church in Fort Worth is very much alive and flourishing.”

Published