The day before my ordination, I was getting my hair cut at a barber in the neighborhood near St. Patrick’s Cathedral. My cell phone rang – yes, I carried a cell phone then, as I do now – and it was Fr. Wilson, the chancellor, who told me that Bishop Delaney had been found dead in bed. At that time my life flashed in front of my eyes a second time, because I was supposed to have been the coadjutor for a year and learn the diocese. Well, fine theory, but it didn’t turn out in practice. That, for me, was Act 1 of a series of drama that continued in the ups and downs of the years.
You may know that Fort Worth is known as the “City of Cowboys and Culture.” Well, when Msgr. Schumacher and Fr. Wilson took me to the “Cowgirls Museum” near downtown Fort Worth, well, I knew that I was no longer in Springfield anymore!
I learned to love the people of Texas as I visited the many dioceses in the Lone Star State. I was the guest of then-Bishop Ochoa, originally from Oxnard, whom many of you know, and through him began to know a bit about California as well.
When then-Archbishop Vigano called me about coming to Orange County, my first response was, “That’s great, I have known Bishop Brown for many years, and he always has been very kind to me.” And I found that the days in Fort Worth prepared me to come here, in God’s Providence, to be here with all of you.
Psalm 84 says: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, God of Hosts.” That dwelling place is not only the cathedral, but it is the life of the local Church, where you have received me now and which has become my home.
Not long ago, I mentioned to Bishop Freyer and Fr. Fred Bailey, about some matter, and I reflected that, “Well, I am not from here.” Fred said, and Tim agreed, well, “That was a long time ago now, and you are part of here and from Orange County now.”
I thank you for your love, patience and witness of Faith and care for me. As the so-called Bishop of Disneyland, I find myself now clarifying misconceptions of California to friends of mine from the Midwest. Not bad for a former Midwesterner.
Even with the drama that still continues in some degree, I am grateful that, as one with you, we can say together, “My heart and my soul ring out their joy to God, the living God.”