By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
On a day of bountiful sunshine and unseasonable warmth, Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell presided as consecrator for the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Gregory “Greg” Kelly with more than 1,000 present at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Feb. 11.
At a Mass that soared with its stirring liturgy and beauty, church dignitaries from near and far joined a wide range of North Texas Catholics whom Bishop Kelly has served as a priest in the Diocese of Dallas since his ordination in 1982.
Bishop Kelly’s large family, seated in a front section of the cathedral, embraced with grace and joy an intensely emotional day.
In greeting the congregants, Bishop Farrell gave special thanks to Bishop Kelly’s mother, Marilean, who received a standing ovation.
“That’s a reminder to us all that the vocation to the priesthood is born in the family,” he said. “We thank you, and we know that you have come from many parts of the United States.”
Bishop Farrell gave special recognition to some of the almost 30 cardinals, archbishops and bishops who were among the more than 200 priests in attendance.
He particularly thanked Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C.; Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of San Antonio, and Bishop Emeritus Charles V. Grahmann, who was Bishop Farrell’s predecessor in Dallas.
Archbishop-emeritus of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan and Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, Auxiliary Bishop of Dallas, joined Bishop Farrell as co-consecrators.
Father Tom Cloherty, pastor of Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Plano, and Father Robert Williams, pastor of Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Church, served as Bishop Kelly’s chaplains.
When Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò read the English translation of the Holy See’s mandate for the ordination, Bishop Kelly appeared humbly grateful and near tears.
On Dec. 16, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Kelly to serve as Auxiliary Bishop of Dallas to serve in the diocese, which, at 1.3 million Catholics, ranks among the fastest-growing dioceses in the U.S. He also was appointed Titular Bishop of Jamestown.
Bishop Kelly, who turned 60 on Feb. 15, will continue to serve as Vicar for Clergy for the Diocese of Dallas.
Bishop Farrell’s homily brimmed with the message of Pope Francis as a “living parable” in his imitation of Christ and role model for new Bishop Kelly and all shepherds in the church.
The homily urged Bishop Kelly to be a “good and faithful shepherd” by heeding Pope Francis’ call “to smell of the sheep, to stay close to the sheep, the people…
“I know you will continue to stay close to the people of the Diocese of Dallas. This is where you grew up.”
The homily examined the scriptures and interlaced key themes including the papal Year of Mercy, Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico and the Holy Father’s loyalty to helping those on society’s periphery.
Bishop Farrell said that a bishop’s ministry should keep in mind the Holy Father’s references to the church as “not a hotel for the rich but a hospital for the poor.”
“Please never forget where you came from,” Bishop Farrell told Bishop Kelly. “Be a servant leader…
“Be an imitator of Pope Francis as he imitates Christ.”
Bishop Kelly—a native of Le Mars, Iowa, who grew up in Colorado Springs—attended Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving and has served in the Diocese of Dallas for almost 34 years.
He served as parochial vicar at All Saints Catholic Church in Dallas; chaplain at the University of Dallas for 10 years, and founding pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in McKinney.
Bishop Kelly also served in positions including vocations director for the Diocese of Dallas and interim rector for Holy Trinity Seminary, and was named monsignor in 2013.
The Episcopal Ordination Rite included the laying on of hands and the anointing of Bishop Kelly’s head, which preceded his receiving the Book of the Gospels, his ring, miter and crozier.
In addressing the congregants, Bishop Kelly drew laughter with his reference to his miter and his desire to re-experience Bishop Farrell’s homily.
“I feel overwhelmed and a little top-heavy,” he said. “Bishop Farrell’s homily—I need to get a copy of that homily because he’s talking to ME.”
Bishop Kelly thanked Pope Francis; the men and women religious; diocesan employees and his mother, late father, John Kelly, and four siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews for their inspiration.
He praised his parents for “the manner of their lives,” including their devotion to the church, the Eucharist, the Blessed Mother and the Rosary.
In an address partly delivered in Spanish, he spoke of his gratitude for Pope Francis’ example of taking the Gospel out to other people, and pledged to do the same.
Bishop Kelly saluted the papal Year of Mercy, at one point eliciting more laughter with the gentle brand of soft-spoken humor that has become familiar throughout the diocese.
“I’m sure that I will give Bishop Farrell plenty of opportunities to exercise mercy in this Year of Mercy,” he said.
Bishop Kelly described selecting his Coat of Arms components and his motto of “Take Courage”—a reflection of Jesus’ words to the disciples as he walked on water toward them (Mt. 14: 27).
Bishop Kelly told the congregants that “an unfamiliar road” need not cause fear for those who keep their “eyes fixed on Jesus.”
“I hope to be faithful to him,” Bishop Kelly said in pledging to emulate Pope Francis in embracing those on the periphery.
“Let us keep our eyes fixed on him now and take courage.”
Theresa McCormick—one of Bishop Kelly’s three sisters—said that their mother absorbed the events of the Episcopal Ordination with quiet joy.
“She’s pretty contemplative,” McCormick said. “She will sit down and talk about it when we get home to Colorado Springs. It was a wonderful, emotional day.”
Bishop Kelly’s sister Mary Davis said that she felt tremendously moved when her brother came to the front pew to bless the family.
“It was just very touching,” she said. “I’m speechless. He’s a blessing to our family.”
After the ceremony and the first wave of congratulations from his loved ones, Bishop Kelly stood near the altar and paused as if to preserve the moment forever.
“I don’t know what to say right now,” he said as he smiled. “It’s a lot to take in.”
Mary and Paul Bureau, who met Bishop Kelly when he served as parochial vicar at All Saints, said that being present for the ordination made them feel grateful.
“I loved every minute of working with him,” said Mary Bureau, who served as parish secretary at All Saints and now is a parishioner at St. Monica Catholic Church. “He was a special example for all of us. He was destined for this day.”
Marco Polo, from Quito, Ecuador, said that his heart overflowed with the joy of witnessing the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Kelly, who traveled to Quito with St. Gabriel parishioners to assist Polo at the Working Boys Center, where he directs the education program.
“My heart is very happy to see the Padre Kelly on this day,” said Polo, whose center helps families become financially independent by offering access to education, health care and basic services. “I hope very much that God will bless him for a long, long time.”