I’ve known Bishop Kevin for many years. We met in Rome at the Casa Santa Maria in 1983. That year a new Code of Canon Law was promulgated, reflecting the values and changes that took place at Vatican II.

I was sent to study theology but, due to the new code, the Casa was packed cheek to jowl with priests sent by their bishops to be experts in the new code (secretly we theologians felt a bit superior to the young canonists; theology was considered the “Queen of the Sciences” while they were just trying to learn how to be lawyers).

As the years passed, I learned quite a bit about canon law from these students. There were so many of them in our house, there were times when I felt we talked at table of nothing else. Fr. Kevin W. Vann was one of those canonists, but he had none of the rigidity or infallibility of some of them. When he talked at table or at cocktails in the salon, he always was telling me about his family and what had gone on in the parish he had served in before coming to Rome.

Then as now, he was filled with a tremendous energy. Whatever he did he did it with both feet forward. Even these days when a person our age should be slowing down a bit, he’s going on all over the place, often exhausting his poor secretary. At the Council of Priests meetings, he reports about what he did in this parish and that, who he met at what meeting and how he was helping this parish or that school with the goals they have set for themselves. I find it a little exhausting trying to follow his extensive activities.

This is due to his pastoral focus. The church is not just what goes on at the chancery office or the bishops’ conference. The church is in every parish and school in the heart of each believer. And he wants to meet them all.

Congratulations on 40 years!