Fort Worth bishop heads to California



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Posted on September 21, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 21 at 5:47 PM

FORT WORTH -- Bells of Saint Patrick's Cathedral echoed through downtown Fort Worth at noon Friday, calling parishioners to Mass.

Many arrived with heavy hearts.

"It's a sad day," said worshiper Felipa Hernandez. "We love Bishop Vann. Our hearts are with him."

The news that Pope Benedict XVI has reassigned Bishop Kevin Vann to the Diocese of Orange in southern California had just come in.

In fact, Bishop Vann was already in California as congregants in North Texas lifted prayers for him.

"He's been a wonderful bishop," said Ever Horan on her way into church. "More than wonderful."

Bishop Vann took over the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth seven years ago, arriving just as Bishop Joseph Delaney died of cancer. He arrived as the diocese faced sexual abuse cases surfacing from years past.

"He immediately, from day one, mandated that safe environment was going to be a top priority," said Monsignor Stephen Berg.

Monsignor Berg said the bishop made taking care of victims a top priority.

"We have now settled through mediation or other means more than 50 cases," he said.

Bishop Vann quickly gained a reputation for being energetic and engaging. He gets much of the credit for adding 21 new priests, and a record number of seminarians.

They will shepherd a growing number of Catholics in the Fort Worth diocese -- an estimated 710,000 -- who will miss their bishop.

Kevin Vann will continue to lead the diocese until Dec. 10.