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1,800 attend 'homegrown' bishop's ordination ceremony

By Angela Ward
Nov. 28, 2012 at 10 p.m.

TYLER - People came from near and far to witness Joseph Strickland being ordained as the new bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Tyler on Wednesday.

About 1,800 people attended the ceremony at Caldwell Auditorium, including some of Strickland's relatives from Australia.

Strickland is the fourth bishop of the diocese, which was established in 1986 from 33 East Texas counties that were formerly parts of the dioceses of Dallas, Beaumont or Houston. He is the first "homegrown" bishop of the diocese, having been raised in Texarkana and Atlanta.

Mary Jackson, who lives in Houston, said her parents and Strickland's parents were among the five founding families of St. Catherine's, the first Catholic parish in Atlanta.

"I've known him since he was a child," Jackson said. "It's fabulous to see him being ordained as a bishop. I wouldn't have missed this for the world. We feel so blessed to have an extraordinary man we have known for so many years becoming the leader of this diocese."

Jackson's sister still lives in Atlanta, as does one of Strickland's sisters.

"His mother was a war bride who came to America from Australia in the 1940s," Jackson said. "It's wonderful that some of his Australian family members were able to come over for this ceremony."

Daniel Nicholas Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of the the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, presided over the ordination ceremony. Several other bishops, as well as dozens of priests from throughout the United States, also attended.

While the ceremony was primarily in English, portions of it - including some of Strickland's remarks - were in Spanish; a nod to the growing number of Hispanics in the diocese. Longview, Tyler and Texarkana are the three largest cities within the diocese, which includes about 80,000 Catholics.

"Bishop Joseph Strickland is now a bishop in an unbroken succession of bishops preserved from age to age and established by Christ, the eternal high priest," DiNardo said.

Near the conclusion of the ceremony, Strickland asked the children in the audience to join him at the altar.

"What God does among us when we choose to follow his path is truly amazing," Strickland said. "I joyfully and humbly take on the job of being your shepherd and guiding you to Jesus Christ."

The Rev. Dan Gonzalez, now pastor of Strickland's home parish in Atlanta and formerly pastor of St. Anthony's in Longview, said he was thrilled with Strickland's selection as bishop.

"I'm joy-filled for him," Gonzalez said. "I believe he's the right person to help this diocese continue to grow, especially given his special concern for Hispanics. I look forward to working with him."



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