By Jessica Priest,Victoria Advocate
Hands clasped in prayer, priests and parishioners alike celebrated the coming of Victoria’s newest spiritual leader, Bishop Brendan Cahill.
The voices of more than 1,200 people mixed with an ethereal choir Monday at Our Lady of Victory Cathedral during a three-hour service to install Cahill as a leader of Catholics in the 10-county diocese.
Cahill, formerly a priest of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, replaces Bishop Emeritus David Fellhauer.
Pope Francis appointed Cahill to the position in April after Fellhauer retired.
The Most Rev. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, explained the significance of the Gospel reading, Matthew 16:13-19.
Like Simon Peter, who was unwavering in his faith that Jesus Christ was the son of the living God despite visible proof, Cahill’s destiny was changing. Now, Cahill, too, would feel the weight of all the responsibility that comes with being a good shepherd.
DiNardo pointed to how the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday lifted a ban on same-sex marriages as an example of this, calling the decision a "usurpation of the democratic process of legislation."
"Now, you’re the shepherd of a little church and together, with other shepherds and the Pope, we must do something about this. We have to be prepared to defend our rights as citizens of this country," DiNardo said.
DiNardo called upon everyone in the cathedral to never leave Cahill out of their prayers.
"He must guide; he must listen. He must teach; he must learn," DiNardo said.
Cahill thanked everyone for making him feel at home in the Crossroads. Toward the end of Mass, he broke down in happy tears and had to repeat himself.
"Today I pledge my love to you, and I ask for your prayers that I may be a merciful shepherd, bringing each of us closer in heart to the good shepherd, Jesus Christ," Cahill said.
As the white robed priests filed out of the cathedral, volunteer and Our Lady of Victory parishioner Judy Goodman watched her 24-year-old son, Chase, walk among them.
Goodman, 51, felt blessed to watch Victoria’s first bishop ordination ceremony. Fellhauer and his predecessor, Bishop Charles V. Grahmann, were ordained elsewhere.
Goodman’s son was the candle bearer. He is entering his third year of seminary. Goodman hopes because Cahill served as the rector for St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, he will increase the vocation of both men and women.
"He’s going to bring a lot of youth and vigor to our diocese, definitely," she said.
Sean Tracey, 50, of St. Teresa Catholic Church in Houston, meanwhile, wanted to connect Cahill with Irish Americans in the region after setting up an endowment in his honor. He set up the endowment for the Center of Irish Studies at their alma mater, the University of St. Thomas.
Tracey and Cahill are both proud of their Irish roots and have traveled to the country together before. Cahill performed the marriage ceremony for Tracey and his wife and baptized his daughter and grandchildren.
"He always had a glow. It may be deeper now than it was then," he said of their days in college.
Diana Galvan, 51, another volunteer who helped prepare Our Lady of Victory for the ceremony, could see Cahill’s glow as he walked by.
"Just look at him. He radiates holiness," she said, smiling. "He’s our Catholic rock star."
Receptions for Cahill
• 7 p.m. July 10 in El Campo at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1458 County Road 406 or Armory Road.
• 7 p.m. July 13 in Victoria at Holy Family Church, 704 Mallette Drive.
• 7 p.m. July 15 in Hallettsville at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 321 U.S. Highway 77.
• 5:30 p.m. July 20 in Palacios at the Vietnamese Apostolate, 100 Vietnam St.
SOURCE: DIOCESE OF VICTORIA
About Bishop Brendan Cahill
• Born on Nov. 28, 1963, in Coral Gables, Fla., to Joe and Joan Cahill
• Grew up in Houston with two brothers and two sisters.
• Earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s of Divinity from the University of St. Thomas in Houston in 1985 and 1990.
• Earned a master’s degree in black Catholic studies from Xavier University in New Orleans in 1994.
• Earned a doctorate in sacred theology from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1998.
• Served as parochial vicar of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Houston from 1990 to 1992 and Christ the Good Shepherd in Spring from 1992 to 1998.
• Served on the formation faculty from 1998 to 2001 and as rector from 2001 to 2010 of St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.
• Served as the director of Secretariat for Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston since 2010.
SOURCE: DIOCESE OF VICTORIA