Bishop Kevin Vann installed as fourth bishop of Diocese of Orange, 10th largest diocese in the U.S.

Joan Kurkowski-Gillen


December 11, 2012


Bishop Kevin W. Vann was installed as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Orange Dec. 10 during a Mass that reflected California’s rich cultural diversity.

A crowd of more than 4,000 people packed the UC-Irvine Bren Center to witness the landmark event. Bishop Vann, who shepherded the Diocese of Fort Worth for seven years, now leads the nation’s tenth largest diocese with one of the fastest growing Catholic populations in the country.

Forty-two percent of the three million people living in Orange County are Catholic. Much of the growth is attributed to the influx of Latin American and Asian immigrants to the area.

The influence of the Mexican, Vietnamese, and Native American traditions on the local Church was evident during the grand procession. Wearing a traditional Aztec headdress and carrying bowls of smoking incense, the Danzantes del Sol dancers from Ontario, California led clergy, ecumenical leaders, and members of lay Catholic apostolates into the arena turned worship space. The Diocese of Orange has the largest number of Vietnamese descendants outside of Vietnam and young girls from St. Barbara’s parish paid tribute to their heritage by wearing customary Ao Dai dresses to carry flowers to the altar.

Guests at the installation ceremony included Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles, Most Rev. Jose Gomez, metropolitan archbishop of Los Angeles and Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. More than 150 priests and 50 bishops also witnessed the rite of installation. Among those attending from the Diocese of Fort Worth were Vicar General Monsignor Stephen Berg, Director of Vocations Father Isaac Orozco, Monsignor Michael Olson, rector of Holy Trinity Seminary, Monsignor Juan Rivero, Father Stephen Jasso, Father Jonathan Wallis, and Chancellor Father Dan Kelly.

Seated in the audience were two of Bishop Vann’s brothers, Dennis and Les as well as other friends and family from his hometown of Springfield, Illinois.

“Thank you for your generosity in answering the call to serve,” Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said before reading the Apostolic Mandate from the Holy See appointing Bishop Vann to the Diocese of Orange. “We are confident that with the example of the Good Shepherd and the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of this diocese, you can meet the challenges of the New Evangelization.”

After reading the Apostolic Mandate, Bishop Vann was led to the cathedra (bishop’s chair) by Archbishop Gomez and Archbishop Vigano. The audience burst into applause as Bishop Vann sat in the chair — an act symbolizing his new role as Ordinary of the Diocese of Orange.

During his homily, Bishop Vann thanked his predecessor Bishop Tod Brown who is retiring after serving the Diocese of Orange 14 years.

“Thank you for your friendship of all these years and for what you have done in Orange,” he said, citing the elder bishop’s work in the area of education and ecumenism. “I am honored to be your successor, and I look forward to working with you in this wonderful diocese.”

Bishop Vann also sent a personal message to his 87-year-old father who was unable to attend the ceremony for health reasons. His mother, Theresa, died in June.

The installation ceremony was live streamed on the internet so the elder Vann was able to view the proceedings from his home in Springfield.

“This is a time for me to say thank you, Dad, for always teaching us to do what was right all the time,” he added. “Thank you for all that you taught me and my siblings because who I am now, Dad, is greatly due to you.”

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An evening prayer service was held the day before the installation Mass at the future Christ Cathedral Arboretum formerly known as the Crystal Cathedral. The gathering brought together leaders of different faiths to pray, bless, and welcome Bishop Vann to Orange County.

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA -- Bishop Kevin W. Vann was installed as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Orange Dec. 10 during a Mass that reflected California’s rich cultural diversity.

(until 12/31/2013)