New bishop to be second youngest in U.S.

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Pope names veteran Fort Worth priest, 47, to lead diocese

A longtime Fort Worth priest has been named the new bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, which includes the fast-growing Denton area.

Pope Francis on Tuesday named the Rev. Msgr. Michael F. Olson, 47, to become the fourth bishop of the Fort Worth Diocese. He succeeds Bishop Kevin Vann, who was appointed bishop of Orange, Calif., last year by Pope Benedict XVI.

Olson, who is currently serving as rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, is the first priest of the diocese to become a bishop and will become the second-youngest bishop in the U.S. to lead a diocese, according to Pat Svacina, spokesman for the diocese.

Olson will be ordained bishop and installed as head of the diocese on Jan. 24 with a special Mass in the Fort Worth Convention Center.

“I am very humbled and deeply moved by Pope Francis’ appointment of me to serve as the Bishop of Fort Worth,” Olson said in a statement. “In a very special way, I am delighted to return home to the Diocese of Fort Worth to serve the priests, deacons, religious and all of the faithful as their bishop.”

The Fort Worth Diocese encompasses 28 counties, including Denton, and stretches as far north as Wichita Falls.

Denton County is one of the fastest-growing Catholic areas in the diocese, and has the newest church in the diocese, Blessed John Paul II on the campus of the University of North Texas. The two other Catholic churches in Denton County, Immaculate Conception on the north side and St. Mark on the south side, are growing rapidly, Svacina said.

“The Catholic population is booming, and Denton and Fort Worth are part of the growth area,” Svacina said. “Denton has the newest church, and the existing two churches are bursting at the seams.”

Olson is a native of Illinois and was ordained a priest of the Fort Worth Diocese in 1994. His first assignment was as the parochial vicar (an associate pastor) of St. Michael Parish in Bedford, where he served from 1994 to 1997. He attended St. Louis University Center for Health Care Ethics for doctoral studies in 1997-2001, and then served as a formation adviser at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.

In 2006, he became pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth, where he remained until he was assigned as rector of Holy Trinity Seminary. In 2010, he received the papal honor of Chaplain to His Holiness, with the title of monsignor, by Pope Benedict.

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