Bishop Kevin Vann is leaving the Catholic Diocese in Fort Worth and heading to California. After seven years, many Catholics believe he was the leader they needed during a time when the faith was shaken by allegations of sexual abuse.
St. Patrick's Cathedral has been a part of Fort Worth since 1885. And Bishop Vann is credited with taking it through both a difficult and prosperous time.
He said the troubles in the diocese persisted because they hadn't been addressed.
"When you see something like that you have to address it right away," he said.
So in his early days, Bishop Vann didn't just rely on the teachings of the church. He relied on the values he learned from his father, who taught him to know what's right and then do it.
He quickly settled more than two dozen unresolved claims of sexual abuse by priests.
"I had to learn how to address those pastorally and directly right away so we could deal with them and help all the folks and keep the diocese going ahead," he said.
And the diocese has gone forward, nearly doubling in size to 700,000 Catholics. And it's grown in diversity too.
"For me it was a wonderful experience of a mix of a lot of people who want to live their faith and who have their faith in common, but have different cultures," Vann said.
In that respect, his new diocese in Orange, Calif. won't be that much different, although twice the size.
The church leader said early last month he was on a ranch for a retreat for a couple of days when his cellphone rang. The caller ID said it was the Vatican embassy in Washington.
"Pope Benedict has appointed you as the Bishop of Orange, Calif.," he said.
Bishop Vann said one of the things he'll miss most about Fort Worth is the many friends he's made in and out of the Catholic Church.
He's regarded by many as one of the most accessible bishops the diocese has ever had.
KDFW FOX 4
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