Pope Francis on Wednesday appointed Fr. Daniel Garcia as Auxiliary Bishop of Austin, to assist the diocese's chief shepherd, Bishop Joe Vásquez, in his governance of the local Church.

The appointment is significant for the diocese, as Fr. Garcia will be the first auxiliary bishop since it was established in 1947.

"This is a historic moment for our diocese as Bishop-elect Garcia will be the first auxiliary bishop since its establishment 67 years ago," Bishop Joe Vásquez said during a Jan. 21 press conference introducing Fr. Garcia. "I am most grateful to His Holiness for the gift of Bishop-elect Garcia to this local Church."

"The Catholic Church in Central Texas is experiencing tremendous growth," he continued. "This appointment is recognition by our Holy Father of the growing needs of the people of this diocese. As auxiliary bishop he will assist me in carrying out my responsibilities, particularly assisting me in shepherding the good people of Central Texas."

During the press conference, Fr. Garcia thanked his fellow priests for their example of service: "For the past 26 years plus, I have tried to give of myself in priestly service to others in the way I understood God calling me to serve. In the midst of these years, I have had wonderful examples of priests and bishops, young and old, living and deceased, who have modeled for me what priestly service is. They, as well as the people I have served, have enabled me to be the priest I am today."

He gave "a special 'thank you' to my brother priests here in the Diocese of Austin. Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement which you have given me over the years."

Daniel Elias Garcia was born in 1960 to Daniel Castilleja Garcia, Jr. and the late Sarah Munoz Garcia. He was born and raised in Cameron, some 70 miles northeast of Austin, and has three younger sisters. He is bilingual in English and Spanish.

He attended Tyler Junior College before entering seminary, attending St. Mary's at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Austin in 1988.

Fr. Garcia has served in several parishes of the diocese, as well as having been the bishops' master of ceremonies and associate vocation director. He obtained a master's in liturgical studies from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn. In 2007.

In 2014, he was appointed vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Austin diocese.

Fr. Garcia's episcopal consecration will be held at a Mass in the Austin cathedral on March 3.

The Diocese of Austin covers some 21,000 square miles in central Texas, serving nearly 550,000 Catholics, or 20 percent of the total population. There are 101 parishes in the diocese, served by 219 priests and 209 deacons.