On Wednesday my heart became very heavy for Bishop Vann. I did not know why. I prayed the Rosary for His Excellency and offered my Mass intention for him.
Bishop Vann is literally the spiritual father of my wife and myself. In 2006, I was an Episcopalian priest in Fort Worth Texas and Bishop Vann counseled us tenderly as we wrestled with Christ’s call to enter the Catholic Church. I think I was the first Episcopalian priest received by Bishop Vann. Since then, I believe Bishop Vann has received something like 7 or 8 Episcopalian priests into the Catholic Church. He’s a fisher of men, but he’s especially talented at catching Episcopalian clergy.
Bishop Vann went out of his way to meet with Joy and me and he personally instructed us for entry into the Church. I guess you could say that we had Bishop Vann as our personal RCIA instructor.
Throughout the years, His Excellency has encouraged Joy and me in our new Catholic faith. We have shared countless lunches. He has even had dinner in our home and played piano for our children. Our children think it’s normal for a bishop to come over.
Fort Worth’s loss is Orange’s gain. I’m happy for Bishop Vann, but sad for us.
As Saint Paul wrote to his spiritual children in Christ:
“For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you. Wherefore, I beseech you, be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:15–16)
I do not have many spiritual fathers. By the Gospel of Jesus, Bishop Vann had begotten me in Christ. I became a Catholic through his sacerdotal ministry, and I will never forgot that or cease to be grateful for him. I’m sure that his words to me and the faithful of Fort Worth would echo those of Saint Paul: “be followers of me as I also am of Christ.”
Bishop Vann, thank you for all that you have done for us. You have left Fort Worth much, much better than you found it.
You are my true “father in Christ,” because it was by your hands that I entered into the Barque of Saint Peter, the one true and Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. I owe you everything for this inestimable gift. You remain in our prayers.
Oremus pro invicem,
Taylor R. Marshall, Ph.D.
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