By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
For Nicholas Weiss, attending Bishop Edward J. Burns’ Mass of Installation as the eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas on Feb. 9 offered more than a chance to steep himself in a blessed, momentous day for the diocese.
The experience also deepened his joy at his calling, said Weiss, a high school senior who is in the process of applying to Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving.
He could not stop grinning as he rose from his seat in the overflow seating to exit the Grand Salon after the installation ceremony at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
“It was a very neat, cool experience,” said Weiss, who is a parishioner at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Grand Prairie. “We wanted to be here because we don’t know when our next chance would come to be at something like this.”
His mother, Amy, said that she found the installation a wonderful chance to join in welcoming Bishop Burns, who previously served as the bishop of the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska.
“Bishop Burns could be Nicholas’ boss someday,” said Amy, whose sons Zachary and Luke also attended the event. “I spent some time in Alaska. Dallas will be a big change for Bishop Burns. It’s exciting to be part of this.”
Parishioners from many parts of the nine-county Diocese of Dallas united to celebrate the start of a new chapter for Dallas-area Catholics. Some attended Solemn Vespers on Feb. 8 in addition to the Mass of Installation at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Rose Dlabaj, a parishioner at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Ennis, said that she had to miss the installation of Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell as the seventh bishop of Dallas in 2007, and was determined to be present for Bishop Burns’ installation.
“It’s such a blessing to be surrounded by all the priests, bishops and cardinals,” said Dlabaj, whose office is near the cathedral. “It’s extra-special to be right in the middle of it.”
Priscilla Mahaffey, a parishioner at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers’ Branch, praised the beautiful liturgy and spirit of joy as Catholics united to welcome Bishop Burns.
“Seeing everybody coming together made me so happy and proud to be Catholic,” she said. “The Lord blessed us with sunshine.”
Sandy Arias and Tere Creixell, members of the University of Dallas-Church of the Incarnation in Irving, said that they felt privileged to be at the installation.
“We were close to our former bishop, Cardinal Farrell,” Arias said. “We were in Rome for his elevation to a cardinal. It’s a blessing to be present and to welcome our new bishop.”
Molly Murray, a parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, called the vespers service and the Mass of Installation inspiring experiences.
“They were everything our Catholic tradition should be—glorious and hopeful,” she said. “It’s a very special moment. Bishop Burns’ smile is so welcoming.”
Dallas’ welcoming spirit impressed Bishop Burns’ brother, Robert, who mingled with the crowd at a post-installation reception at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
“Dallas has the reputation of being a very friendly city,” Robert Burns said as Bishop Burns posed for photographs with well-wishers. “The warm welcome that Dallas has given us is overwhelming.”