Catholics of the Diocese of Austin rejoiced this morning to hear the words “Habemus episcopum! (We have a bishop!),” after it was made public that Pope Benedict appointed Auxiliary Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to be Austin’s new shepherd. Bishop Vásquez is the first Mexican-American to lead the diocese and will be its fifth bishop.
The Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi, made the announcement in Washington D.C. this morning. The installation ceremony will take place in Austin on March 8, 2010.
Bishop Vásquez responded to his appointment, saying “"I wish to thank Pope Benedict XVI for the confidence he has placed in me in naming me shepherd of the Diocese of Austin." He also said that offered prayers of gratitude “for Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza and the priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese for forming me as a bishop.”
“Most of all,” Bishop Vásquez said, “I give thanks to God for the gift of priesthood, which has brought me such joy for 25 years. I trust in the Holy Spirit to enlighten me for this next step in my journey,” he added.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Bishop Vásquez’s superior in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston noted the bittersweet nature of the occasion. “Though I take great pleasure in sharing the news of this episcopal appointment by our Holy Father, we will most certainly feel the loss of Bishop Vasquez in our Archdiocese,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “He has shown himself to be a generous and dedicated priest who brought a great sense of pastoral wisdom and administrative excellence to his ministry, most especially as Vicar General/Chancellor of our Archdiocese.”
“For eight years, he has blessed our Archdiocese with a clear vision for serving Christ’s people. He has been a humble, joyful bishop and it as been a privilege to know him and to work with him as my chief collaborator in this local Church,” DiNardo noted.
Bishop Vásquez succeeds Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who left the Diocese of Austin in June of 2009 to become the Archbishop of New Orleans. He also takes over the diocese from Monsignor Michael Mulvey who had been serving as temporary administrator of the diocese until a bishop was appointed. Monsignor Mulvey was appointed Bishop of Corpus Christi on January 18, leaving the 19,000 square mile diocese once again leaderless.