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Austin welcomes Bishop


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The first Mexican-American bishop to lead the Diocese of Austin, Bishop Joe Vásquez, will be installed March 8. Vásquez, who has been an auxiliary bishop in the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese since 2002, will be replacing current Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who left for the New Orleans Archdiocese last August.

Since Aymond’s appointment, Monsignor Michael Mulvey has led the diocese. Mulvey was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi Jan. 18. Vásquez, the oldest of six, was born in Stamford, near Abilene. He served as a priest in the San Angelo diocese for 17 years after attending St. Mary’s Seminary, the University of St. Thomas in Houston and the Pontifical Gregorian University and North American College in Rome.

The Diocese of Austin has approximately 500,000 Catholics. Pope Benedict XVI selected Vásquez to serve the diocese Jan. 26. In a speech in Austin Jan. 26, Vásquez said he was humbled and honored by the appointment.

“I look forward to working with and serving the priests, the deacons and the religious men and women and the lay faithful of this great Diocese of Austin,” Vásquez said.

Junior Eric Chapa said he didn’t know much about Vásquez when he first heard about the appointment. He had, however, heard that since his youth, Vásquez has known the value of hard work.

“Sometimes young people forget what it means to be passionate enough about what they want in life, to work really hard for it,” Chapa said. “I think Bishop Vasquez’s story and history is a good testament to that.”

Vásquez, whose grandparents came to Texas from Guanajuato, is bilingual and often addresses audiences in both English and Spanish.

“Whenever possible, it is important for bishops to emerge from the community they are serving,” Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Steve Rodenborn said. “As a Texan and a Mexican-American, he more fully relates to his diocese.”

Chapa said not only does he find it important that Vásquez is the first Hispanic bishop in Austin, but also, at 52, he is younger than most bishops.

“He’s valuable in promoting a culture of vocations in young people but also a culture that appreciates all cultures,” Chapa said. “His energy and willingness to build a rapport with young people and young families is going to be valuable to the diocese.”

 

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Austin welcomes Bishop