.- Catholics in the Diocese of Fort Worth will gather in the thousands to celebrate 40 years of Church life in northern Texas, one of the country's fastest growing regions. The festivities will begin with a special Mass on August 9 in the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena.
The Anniversary Mass will be held at 3 p.m. and will be attended by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, the current bishop of the diocese, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Houston/Galveston Archdiocese as well as 12 other Catholic bishops from Texas and other parts of the U.S.
The Diocese of Fort Worth was established by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Prior to its founding, Fort Worth and the surrounding 28 counties were included in the territory of the Diocese of Dallas.
Fort Worth-area Catholics plan to hold a series of celebrations that last throughout the year. The anniversary celebrations will be brought to a close on Monday, August 9, 2010, with Evening Prayer at St. Patrick Cathedral.
“The celebration of our 40th Anniversary is a time not only to celebrate the great gifts and blessings that God has poured out upon our Diocese over the past 40 years, but it is also a time to look ahead to the future and continue the work that the Lord has entrusted to use in building up the Body of Christ, the Church in North Texas,” Bishop Vann said.
“This will be a day to reflect on and thank the Lord for the heritage of faith of all these years in North Texas, and especially for all who were involved in the first days of our Diocese.”
According to the diocese, the festivities will focus on promoting spiritual renewal through “communio,” which is reflected in the anniversary theme: One Lord, One Faith, One Hope. The cornerstone of the spiritual renewal will be the “Why Catholic” program which helps adults deepen their Catholic faith and connect the Church’s teachings to their everyday lives by exploring Catholic teaching in a prayerful small group setting.
Bishop Kevin Vann is the third Bishop of Fort Worth and was named to the post by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
In just four years, Bishop Vann has made dramatic improvements to the catechetical and pastoral aspects of the diocese's outreach. He has also placed a special emphasis on vocations to the priesthood, resulting in 31 men currently being enrolled in the seminary.
The Anniversary Mass will be broadcast live in English and Spanish on the diocese’s new website, www.fwdioc.org.