By David Sedeno
DALLAS (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named two long-serving priests in the Diocese of Dallas as auxiliary bishops to help Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, the head of the diocese, minister to the burgeoning Catholic community in north Texas.
The appointments of Father J. Douglas Deshotel, 58, the current vicar general, and Msgr. Mark J. Seitz, 56, pastor of St. Rita Parish, were announced March 11 in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio to the United States.
The bishops-designate will be ordained April 27 at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Dallas.
The diocese has had only two previous auxiliary bishops that served when the boundaries of the diocese ran from Texarkana to El Paso. The last time an auxiliary served the Dallas Diocese was in 1969, before the Vatican split off the western region to create the Diocese of Fort Worth.
The Diocese of Dallas is comprised of 67 parishes and six quasi-parishes spread over 7,300 miles in nine counties of north Texas.
The bishops-designate joined Bishop Farrell at a news conference, during which they spoke in English and Spanish, and thanked the pope, their bishop and brother priests and the various parishes in which they have served.
“These appointments are very significant in that they show that the Holy Father is keenly aware of the tremendous growth of the Catholic Church in Texas,” Bishop Farrell said.
“In 2007, Pope Benedict made history in the American church when he appointed the first cardinal to serve south of the Mason-Dixon line,” he said, referring to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
He said in appointing the two auxiliaries, Pope Benedict is “acknowledging the growth of our Catholic population here in Dallas … to help me in our ministry to the 1.2 million Catholics in the diocese.”
“Their appointments are joyful news to me but also a great joy to the clergy and people who know them and hold them in very high regard,” he said. “They will be a tremendous help to me and a continued blessing to the people of the diocese.”
Bishop-designate Deshotel has been vicar general and moderator of the curia since 2008.
Born in Basile, La., he has been in the Dallas Diocese since 1972 when he entered Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving. He obtained his master’s degree in divinity at the University of Dallas in 1978 and was ordained as a priest of the diocese that year.
He has served as the vice rector of the Irving seminary, been at numerous parishes and held councilor roles in the Dallas Diocese, including as vicar forane and a member of the diocesan priests’ council and college of consultors.
Bishop-designate Deshotel said he was humbled by the appointment and called it “a blessing” that the pope recognizes the increasing number of Catholics in Texas and the diocese’s cultural diversity.
“I have the best of both worlds. I was born in Louisiana, ‘Who Dat country,’ and moved to Texas,” he said. “Thanks to the wonderful people I have served the past 32 years, I have grown in my skills as a priest.”
Bishop-designate Seitz was born in Milwaukee but also has lived in the Diocese of Dallas since 1972, the year he began his priestly formation at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving. He was ordained to the priesthood in1980.
In 1985, he received a master’s degree in liturgical studies from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. He also holds a master’s in divinity and a master’s in theology from the University of Dallas. He was named a monsignor in 2004.
He has served on the diocesan liturgical commission and the Committee for Continuing Education of Priests. He is a member of the priests’ council and the college of consultors.
At the press conference he said he wanted to assure the pope and Bishop Farrell “that I will serve with all that is in me.”
“My parents and family began my formation and the parish communities where I have had the privilege to serve have continued it. You have all enriched my life,” he added.
“I would like to thank my brother priests, who have been true brothers to me, offering me your inspiring example, your support and your friendship,” he added. “One of my hopes for this new episcopal ministry is that I might serve and support you.”
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