Austin's First Auxiliary: The Ordination of Bishop Danny Garcia

posted by Michael Raia

The newly ordained bishop's blazon and coat of arms.

Tuesday, March 3rd was an historic day for Central Texas.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin saw the ordination of its very first Auxiliary bishop, Most Reverend Daniel Elias Garcia at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock. The current Vicar General, previously pastor of St. Vincent de Paul parish in northwest Austin, has served as a priest for the Diocese of Austin for almost 27 years. Born in Cameron, TX, he earned an Associate of Arts degree from Tyler Junior College before attended St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, where he received both Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Masters of Divinity degrees. He subsequently earned a Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies at St. John's School of Theology in Collegeville, MN. Read more about Bishop Danny's background and apostolic lineage here and here.  His blazon and coat of arms bears his chosen motto "Walk humbly with God," a reference from Micah 6:8.

With over half a million Catholics as of 2014, the Diocese of Austin is the fourth in Texas to receive an auxiliary. It encompasses a land area that stretches north from Austin all the way to Waco and West, TX, south to San Marcos, west to Mason, and east to Bryan-College Station. This area contains 127 parishes across 25 counties. Some 150 priests and 75 deacons were present for the celebration, which was televised locally via live broadcast. The appointment of Austin's first auxiliary indicates the Vatican's response to the rapid growth of the Church in Central Texas, and an increasing need to serve the spiritual needs of the expanding spanish-speaking population. 

Attending Clergy

For those interested in the lineage of Church hierarchy, there was no shortage of miters with 20 bishops in attendance, including 3 archbishops (Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, LA, Archbishop Gustavo Gárcia-Siller of San Antonio, and Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston). Diocese of Austin Judicial Vicar Fr. Chris Ferrer read the proclamation of the official appointment from Pope Francis of Bishop Danny as the first Auxiliary Bishop of Austin, on behalf of Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó. As with many episcopal ordinations in Texas these days, the local connections ran deep. While Ordinary, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, serves as principal consecrator, former Austinites Bishop Michael Sis of San Angelo, TX and Archbishop Gregory Aymond (formerly Bishop of Austin) served in the role of co-consecrators. Bishop Sis and Bishop Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi, TX both previously served in Bishop Danny's current the role of Vicar General of Austin prior to their elevations to the office of Bishop in their respective dioceses. Click here for nice infographic representing this information from Austin Catholic New Media.

from left to right: [Then] Auxiliary Bishop-elect Danny Garcia, Bishop Joe Vásquez, and Bishop Mike Sis of San Angelo, at Vespers at St. Mary's Cathedral the night before the ordination.

from left to right: [Then] Auxiliary Bishop-elect Danny Garcia, Bishop Joe Vásquez, and Bishop Mike Sis of San Angelo, at Vespers at St. Mary's Cathedral the night before the ordination.

Also present among the rank of bishops were recently ordained bishops Michael Olson of Fort Worth and Daniel Flores of Brownsville, who each served as in the formation of many of Austin's young priests at Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas and St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, respectively. Another interesting connection that Bishop Danny himself cited was the resident pastor of St. William, his only seminary classmate present, Fr. Dean Wilhelm. 

What exactly is an Auxiliary?

Well, by canon law, only one bishop may serve as ordinary, or chief shepherd, in any diocese. However, there is a provision for dioceses that are large enough to require additional help. Auxiliaries are essentially assistants endowed with the same sacramental faculties who serve under the direction of the ordinary. For practical considerations in the life of a bishop such as confirmations, groundbreakings, dedications of churches, and the like, this can be a wonderful thing. While each of these auxiliaries serves under an ordinary in his diocese, each is also given a titular see, a diocese of which the auxiliary is ordinary but where he does not or cannot serve for various reasons (ie. little or no Catholic population, persecution, etc.). Bishop Danny's titular see is Capsus, formerly shepherded by Auxiliary Emeritus Bishop Bernard Popp of San Antonio who passed away last year. Read more on the titular see of Capsus here. Of the 15 Texas dioceses, those with auxiliary bishops currently include only Dallas and Galveston-Houston, where this writer's second cousin, auxiliary Bishop George Sheltz, serves. 

The open book of Gospels is suspended above the head of a kneeling Bishop Garcia as a symbolic reminder of the burden of the office: to live and preach the Gospel. The kneeling posture also serves as a reminder, as Austin bishop Joe Vásquez pointed out, that the title of bishop is not one of honor, but of service to his flock.  

The open book of Gospels is suspended above the head of a kneeling Bishop Garcia as a symbolic reminder of the burden of the office: to live and preach the Gospel. The kneeling posture also serves as a reminder, as Austin bishop Joe Vásquez pointed out, that the title of bishop is not one of honor, but of service to his flock.  

The Rite of Consecration

Among many beautiful components of the liturgy of an episcopal ordination, the suspending of the book of Gospels above the head of the bishop-to-be during the rite of consecration. The words of the rite are as follows: 

“God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies and God of all consolation, you dwell in heaven, yet look with compassion on all that is humble. You know all things before they came to be; by your gracious word you have established the plan of your Church.

“From the beginning you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation. You established rulers and priests, and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you. From the creation of the world you have been pleased to be glorified by those whom you have chosen.”

The following part of the prayer is recited by all the consecrating bishops, with hands joined:

“So now pour out upon this chosen one the power that is from you, the governing Spirit whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit given by him to his holy apostles, who founded the Church in every place to be your temple for the unceasing glory and praise of your name.”

Then the principal consecrator continues alone:

“Father, you know all hearts. You have chosen your servant for the office of bishop. May he be a shepherd to your holy flock, and a high priest blameless in your sight, ministering to you night and day; may he always gain the blessing of your favor and offer the gifts of your holy Church. Through the Spirit who gives the grace of high priesthood grant him the power to forgive sins as you have commanded, to assign ministries as you have decreed, and to loose every bond by the authority which you gave to your apostles. May he be pleasing to you by his gentleness and purity of heart, presenting a fragrant offering to you, through Jesus Christ, your Son, through whom glory and power and honor are yours with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, now and for ever. Amen.”

Congratulations

We congratulate and wish Bishop Danny all the best, and were excited to share in his special day.

JGA continues to enthusiastically share in the mission of the Catholic Diocese of Austin by serving a number of parishes undertaking planning and building projects. St. William's planned Parish Activity Center is still a year away from completion – otherwise it would have served beautifully to host the post-ordination reception. See more on the plans for the parish here. Groundbreaking is March 28, and we may just have a new bishop back on the site of his ordination three weeks later to help turn the soil.