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Fort Worth Bishop-Elect Talks About His Vision For Diocese

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Next week, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth will ordain a new leader.

Michael Olson will be the first Fort Worth priest to become a bishop.   He calls himself a ‘man of hope’ and said he wants to share his hope with North Texas.

At just 47-years-old, Bishop-elect Olson will become the second youngest person in the U.S. to take the reigns of a Catholic diocese.

“Because of the needs I had to do leadership positions at a younger age,” Bishop-elect Olson said.  “And I think that may have sped things up a little bit in this regard or given me some experience other priests might not have had.”

Part of his trial by fire happened about five years ago, when he was one of the point men assigned to handle the furor surrounding several sex scandals in the Fort Worth diocese.

Bishop-elect Olson said the denial of abuses is in the past, but the issue is still front and center.

“The negligence is in the past. The apathy is in the past.  The fear is in the past,” he said. “But, we have to be aware of that past to live in the present and be vigilant to those who are in need and to keep this from happening again.”

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Bishop-elect Olson said the mission on the topic of abuse is clear.  “We have to continue to reach out to victims.  We have to continue to work toward reconciliation.  But time, God’s grace, good will and actions on our part hopefully can help us achieve that reconciliation.  And I see that as very much a part of my ministry.”

The Bishop-elect said he plans to get the church’s message out in new ways, to a new audience  — and to people outside the church.

“I think sometimes it’s a matter of bringing it into the public eye — things like this [interview],” he said.  “But also social media, especially among young people.  I think that’s a very important place that the church has to be, where the Gospel has to be.”

Involving younger generations in the church is high on his “to-do” list.

“It’s right up at the top,” Bishop-elect Olson said.  “I think they have a lot to offer, first of all.   I think there’s a lot of interest among young people to seek God in their lives.  Also, to seek service of their neighbor.”

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Bishop-elect Olson explained that he goes by a motto coined by Pope John Paul the II:  Veritatis Splendor.  It means the splendor of truth, which encompasses, he said, seeing matters from different perspectives to understand the whole truth.

“But also it holds us accountable to honesty,” the Bishop-elect said.  “And you can’t really have truth without love or charity as well.  I try to be realist in that sense and there’s so much beauty in the reality of the world and God’s order of creation.

And Bishop-elect Olson said he knows his actions have to inspire a diverse community of Catholics.

“Its important for us, for me as a bishop, to keep people focused on our ultimate end, to help people, to affirm them, encourage them, to preach the Gospel to live the Gospel in their daily lives.”

The Mass of ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Michael Olson will be held on Wednesday, January 29 at 2:00 p.m. The event will take place at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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