For the last 10 years, Bishop Kevin Farrell has led the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. Now, he’s gotten quite the promotion – being called by Pope Francis to serve at the Vatican.
“My administrative assistant came in and said the Pope’s on the telephone,” Farrell said at a press conference about receiving the phone call in May. “I felt like saying yeah, yeah. But I didn’t, I just looked curiously at her – eventually she did put on the Pope.”
Soon after, Farrell was on his way to Rome.
The 68 year-old will be in charge of the new Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, Families and Life. The role is designed for the church to better minister to Catholic families.
During his time in Dallas. Farrell is credited with overseeing the growing Catholic diocese. It includes Dallas and Collin Counties, as well as seven others, and is home to more than 1 million Catholics.
“This diocese has grown and continues to grow at a tremendous rate,” Farrell said. “We grow from an influx of people from northern states who are coming to Dallas, and we grow from the blessings we receive from an immigrant community also.”
The Irishman came to North Texas from Washington in 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI chose Farrell to become the seventh Bishop in Dallas history.
During his tenure here, he hasn’t shied away from openly accepting immigrants - something he shares with Pope Francis. Last year, when immigrant kids stayed in Ellis County, Farrell talked with KERA.
“We need to remember always they’re human beings,” Farrell said. “They’re just like any other man, woman, or child who is struggling to take care of their family, and to flee violence, persecution.”
In 2014, North Texas made international headlines when Thomas Eric Duncan – a West African man – was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas. Farrell offered a cabin owned by the diocese to his fiancé.
Louise Troh and her family stayed there for two weeks while they waited to see if they had contracted the deadly illness. Farrell explained his decision to reporters.
“I would hope that the whole community would kind of understand and bring them back into the community,” he said. “And be kind and accepting and compassionate to these people who have suffered in this way.”
Farrell starts his new job at the Vatican on Sept. 1. At the press conference, he shared his appreciation for North Texas.
“It is my home, it is a place I love,” he said. “I love the people, I’ve loved the work. I truly enjoy and am truly going to miss working here in the city of Dallas.”
Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly will lead the diocese until the pope decides on a new bishop for Dallas.
Pope Francis has named Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas to head the new Vatican office for families and laity.
Farrell, a former Legion of Christ priest whose brother is also a top Vatican official, becomes one of the highest-ranking Americans at the Holy See.
Francis appointed Farrell on Wednesday as he formally created the new Dicastery for the Laity, Families and Life, which combines several Vatican offices into one. The reform is part of Francis' bigger overhaul of the Vatican bureaucracy to make it more efficient and reflects the pope's focus on better ministering to Catholic families and laity.
In a related appointment Wednesday, Francis named the former head of the Vatican's office for family matters, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, to lead the Vatican's bioethics think tank and marriage institute.
I am extremely humbled that our Holy Father Pope Francis has selected me to lead this newly formed dicastery. I look forward to being part of the important work of the universal Church in the promotion of the laity and the apostolate of the laity and for the pastoral care of the family in accordance with the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, the Joy of Love, and the support of human life.
While I am grateful for the Holy Father’s confidence in me, I meet this news with mixed emotions.
Dallas has been my home for 10 years and, from the beginning, I quickly grew to love the beautiful people and culture here. The strong faith, kindness and generosity of the people in the Diocese of Dallas surpassed all of my expectations. My brother priests were among the first to welcome me and I am extremely grateful for their collaboration, friendship, wise counsel and prayers. A bishop can get nothing of significance done in a diocese without the hard work and cooperation of the pastors, priests, diocesan staff and people. Together, I believe we have accomplished many goals, and put others in motion, that will continue to build up the Catholic Church in North Texas.
I cannot express enough my gratitude for all that the priests, staff and people have done and continue to do for me and the Diocese of Dallas. I know our Holy Father is working, as we speak, to find the right man to serve as the new chief shepherd. I am confident that, upon my departure, Bishop Greg Kelly will handle the needs of the diocese in the interim. Please pray for him. I also ask that you please pray for me as I begin this next unexpected chapter of my priesthood. May God continue to bless the Diocese of Dallas.