The Roman Catholic Church did not have to look far to find the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.
Monsignor Michael Olson, who was ordained 20 years ago at Fort Worth’s St. Patrick Cathedral and was most recently the rector at the University of Dallas’ Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, was chosen in November to replace Bishop Kevin Vann.
His appointment, which is among the top local religion stories of 2013, was a popular choice by a popular pontiff, Pope Francis.
“It’s kind of a local guy makes good,” said Peter Flynn, vice chancellor of administrative services of the Fort Worth diocese and executive director of the Catholic Foundation of North Texas. “He will be a great shepherd for our chapter.”
Olson, 47, will become the first priest from the 28-county diocese to be named its bishop. Vann, now bishop of Orange County, Calif., will participate in Olson’s consecration Jan. 29.
The Illinois native will be the second-youngest bishop in the U.S. He was formerly a priest in churches in White Settlement and Bedford and was Vann’s vicar general. He has been the rector at the Holy Trinity Seminary for more than five years.
Fort Worth Potter’s House
After growing to more than 2,000 members, the Fort Worth Potter’s House in Woodhaven held dedication ceremonies Jan. 13. Bishop T. D. Jakes, a Fort Worth resident and founder of the 30,000-member Potter’s House in Dallas, was on hand.
The church now occupies much of Woodhaven Shopping Center and seeks to help apartment dwellers and others in the east Fort Worth neighborhood.
“We want to be a bulwark for the community,” said the Rev. Patrick Winfield, pastor of the Fort Worth campus. “ We want to be part of the community, not just a church.”
Mosque opens in east Fort Worth
To better serve an ever-growing Muslim population in east Fort Worth and north Arlington, the Eastchase Islamic Center opened in October.
“We have a lot of Muslims in the Eastchase area,” said Dr. Nizam Peerwani, a board member of the Al-Hedayah Academy, where the mosque was built.
Tarrant County’s sixth mosque, located a couple of blocks north of Interstate30 at Randol Mill Road, is anchored by a prayer hall with marble risers.
Robisons celebrate 50 years
Evangelist James Robison and his wife, Betty, were honored on the 50th anniversary of their marriage and ministry in July. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, was among speakers at the conference at Gateway Church in Southlake. The Robisons, who met as teen-agers in a Houston suburb, are hosts of the widely televised Life Today program.
During a standing ovation for the couple, Robison looked at his wife and declared ``I’ve been standing on the shoulders of this beautiful woman all these years.’’
Eye clinic at First Christian
Fort Worth’s oldest church, the domed First Christian Church in downtown, extended its outreach to the community in May by opening its doors to a Community Eye Clinic for the homeless and others. Sponsors of the clinic – the University of Houston School of Optometry and San Antonio’s University of the Incarnate Word’s Rosenberg School of Optometry – were looking for a place to open a clinic, and First Christian was recommended by the Fort Worth branch of the national Partners for Sacred Places.
So far 1,950 eye exams have been performed and 11 intern doctors trained, said clinic director, Dr. Jennifer Deakins. A new group of interns arrives in January. “We’ve recently began offering optical services, which include low cost eye glasses,” Deakins said. The clinic has a sliding scale for patients without insurance and accepts Medicare and Medicaid.
Ayatollah Ahmad Iravani, spoke at a Global Faith Forum at Keller’s NorthWood Church in November. The Iranian Shiite Muslim cleric was introduced by the church’s pastor, the Rev. Bob Roberts, who hosted the Global Faith Forum to promote friendship among Christians, Jews and Muslims..
Roberts called the turbaned and robed Iravani up front, and asked, “Deep down in your heart, doesn’t it feel a little strange for an ayatollah to be speaking in a Baptist church?”
Iravani is director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East in Washington, D.C., and seeks to counter incorrect teachings about the Islamic faith.
Our Lady of Victory moves
Fort Worth’s Our Lady of Victory building, which had been threatened with demolition in the past, got a new occupant in September when Fisher More College, formerly St. Thomas More, moved in with a lease-purchase agreement from the college.
The college sold its property near TCU to help finance the move. OLV, which is on the national register of historic places, is a perfect location for the college, said Fisher More President Michael King.
A year after tornado
St. Barnabas United Methodist Church in Arlington marked its comeback Easter Sunday, March 31, with a sunrise service and other celebrations, including the sale of tornado T-shirts.
The tornado that destroyed part of the church on April 3, 2012, was one of 17 that moved across North Texas, damaging 1,000 homes and causing an estimated $1 billion dollars in damage in Arlington, Kennedale, Cleburne and other cities.
St. Barnabas’ associate pastor Mike Rodden commented: “We don’t want to call a tornado a blessing, but a blessing has come out of it. It stirred us up literally, and then stirred our hearts. It drew us all closer together, closer to God.”
• In September, the Rev. Percy Thompson was formally installed as the new pastor of Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church in Forest Hill, replacing Pastor Danny Kirk Sr., who was killed at the church in 2012 by a troubled man on drugs.
• The Promise, a long-running outdoor musical in Glen Rose about the life of Jesus was threatened with closure, but will continue after its supporters received a 10-year lease agreement for the Somervell County-owned Texas Amphitheater in November.
• Southlake-based Gateway Church opened a satellite campus at the corner of Basswood Boulevard and Beach Street in North Fort Worth, taking over a former Tom Thumb grocery store.
• The Hillel Academy, a school designed to educate children on Judaism, opened at 5808 Denton Highway in Haltom City, filling a void created by the 2005 closing of the Fort Worth Hebrew Day School.
• NorthWood Church of Keller opened a downtown Fort Worth campus in September at Norris Conference Centers on Houston Street, a couple of doors down from Reata restaurant.
• Responding to violence in churches and other locations, some members of Worth Baptist Church in Fort Worth took part in concealed handgun classes there last spring.
This article includes information from Star-Telegram archives.