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Bishop Vann Is Welcomed at St. Irenaeus Catholic Church in Cypress

Bishop Vann Is Welcomed at St. Irenaeus Church

Bishop Vann Is Welcomed at St. Irenaeus Church

By Edna Ethington

Parishioners of St. Irenaeus Church in Cypress welcomed Bishop Kevin W. Vann to their parish on the weekend of December 13, 14 and 15, 2013.  Bishop Vann was serving as Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, until Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as the fourth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orange on September 21, 2012.  Welcoming banners were hung on the church building and on the patio area of the church for Bishop Vann’s visit.

Bishop Vann presided at the 9:45 Mass at St. Irenaeus Church in Cypress dressed in rose-colored vestments for the third Sunday of Advent on December 15, 2013.  The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday and the presider at all the Masses that day dresses in rose colored vestments in joyous anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Christ on Christmas Day.  Parishioners also dressed in rose colored clothes for Gaudete Sunday.  During his homily, Bishop Vann commented that the rose- colored vestment matched his complexion since he once was red-haired and still has a ruddy complexion.

Bishop Vann said that he came to St. Irenaeus to get to know the parishioners and also to let parishioners know more about him.  He said that he was born and raised in Illinois and was the oldest of six children, all of whom had red hair when they were young.  Both his parents also had red hair in their youth.  He posed for pictures after Mass wearing his rose-colored vestments and the miter, staff and ring that are symbols of his office as Bishop.

Bishop Vann said that he studied in Rome when he was a newly ordained priest and was acquainted with St. Irenaeus’ former pastor, now Msgr. Michael Heher, and Bishop Tod D. Brown, the third Bishop of the Diocese of Orange.  Bishop Vann said that he had just returned from Padua, Italy, where the organ from Christ Cathedral was taken for repairs.  He said that he requested an audience with Pope Francis and was pleased to be able to meet with the Pope.

Bishop Vann was very warm and friendly person as he talked to parishioners after the 11:30 a.m. Mass.  He was then dressed, as priests ordinarily are dressed, in a black suit and white clerical collar with a black cap on his head to protect his head from California’s sun.

I was interested in knowing what was attached to Bishop Vann’s Bishop’s staff that I had seen him carry as he presided at the 9:45 a.m. Mass, so I asked if I could see it after the 11:30 Mass.  I was pleasantly surprised that he invited me to go with him to the sacristy to see the four-sided object that was attached to the Bishop’s staff.

The Bishop’s staff had already been taken apart and put in a traveling case, so Bishop Vann asked his assistant to put it together again and even posed for me with his staff when it was re-assembled.  The four-sided object attached to Bishop Vann’s staff has the crest of the Diocese of Orange on one side, a medallion of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on one side, and a lapis lazuli stones on the other two sides.  Bishop Vann said that he chose the lapis lazuli stones for his staff to match the bishop’s ring that he wore on the ring finger of his right hand. I later I learned that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Diocese of Orange,  and an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is imprinted on a pair of Bishop Vann’s boots.

I am deeply grateful to Bishop Vann for coming to St. Irenaeus Church to spend time with our parishioners and telling us about his life and his journey in faith.  I especially appreciate his taking the time to show me his Bishop’s staff.  I have been a Roman Catholic since the age of five, but this was the first time that I was able to stand next to a Bishop and felt free to ask my


Bishop Vann Is Welcomed at St. Irenaeus Church                                                   p.2


unusual request.  I look forward to seeing the Bishop in the future at Christ Cathedral or at St. Irenaeus on his future visits.

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