Pope Francis named Dallas Auxiliary Bishop Mark J. Seitz as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of El Paso on May 6.
A priest for the Dallas diocese since 1980, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop in Dallas in 2010 and has served as vicar general. He most recently has served as pastoral administrator at All Saints Catholic Church in North Dallas.
Bishop Seitz was introduced at a news conference in El Paso May 6 and talked about how he was going to work with his brother priests to help build up the church in the region.
“I’d like to begin by thanking Pope Francis and the faith he has placed in me by calling me to serve in this historic and extraordinary diocese and what a great time to join you as you mark your centennial,” he said.
He said that he had always been an admirer of the Native American and Hispanic culture that is so prevalent in the region and hoped to become more engaged in all of the communities.
He also talked about how he was hoping to help in the mission of vocations, to help bring healing and comfort to those affect by sexual abuse and that he hopes that the youth in the diocese would help invigorate others in the new evangelization called up by recent popes, including Pope Francis.
He also appeared to learn quickly that living in a southern border region that being bilingual is an asset. During the news conference he had to frequently answer the same questions in English and Spanish and asked for forgiveness if his Spanish was not up to par.
He was asked what he would tell people who from Ciudad Juárez and northern Mexico who had fled the drug and violence in their country. He said that there is no better reason to look for a savior than in Jesus Christ.
“I listen a lot because I have a lot to learn,” he said. “You will be my teachers and I promise to give my all to work in collaboration with all of you as we open this new chapter of this great Diocese of El Paso.”
Bishop Seitz said he was surprised by the news of his appointment but grateful to the Holy Father. He looks forward to serving El Paso but says he will always cherish his time in Dallas.
“Since I entered the seminary here in Dallas as a young 18-year old boy, I have loved Dallas and the Church of Dallas,” Bishop Seitz said. “You have become my family. Dallas has become my home. But when I presented myself for ordination as a deacon, I gave my life to God’s service and I promised to be at the disposal of the Church. I accept this call as a new opportunity to follow the Good Shepherd and, with His help, to be one.”
Expressing his support, Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas said, “I happily congratulate Bishop Mark Seitz and applaud the decision of our Holy Father to appoint him to lead the Catholic faithful in this important border diocese. Bishop Seitz’ ability to speak Spanish will be a tremendous asset but he also possesses a prayerful, pastoral manner, keen theological insight and deep devotion to our Church. His years as a hard-working pastor in the Diocese of Dallas will serve him well as he leads his new diocese and I wish him many blessings in this new chapter of his ministry. I know he will be a tremendous blessing to the people of the Diocese of El Paso.”
Bishop Seitz was born in Milwaukee, Wisc. on Jan. 10, 1954. He has lived in the Diocese of Dallas since 1972 when he began his priestly formation at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 17, 1980. In 1985, he received a Master’s Degree in Liturgical Studies from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.. He also holds a master’s degree in Divinity and a master’s degree in Theology from the University of Dallas. He was named a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in December 2004. He has served on the diocesan Liturgical Commission and the Committee for Continuing Education of Priests. He is a member of the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors in the Diocese of Dallas.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of El Paso, established in 1914, includes 10 counties in far West Texas covering 26,686 square miles. The diocese serves 656,035 Catholics (of 811,739) and is made up of 55 parishes, 20 missions, and 17 ministries which serve the multicultural, multilingual community.