Pope Francis names auxiliary bishop of Dallas Diocese
By Catholic News Service
Pope Francis has named Msgr. Gregory Kelly, a priest of the Diocese of Dallas and vicar for clergy, to be an auxiliary bishop of the diocese.
The appointment was announced Dec. 16 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the U.S.
A native of Iowa, Bishop-designate Kelly, 59, was ordained a priest of the Dallas Diocese May 5, 1982. He has been vicar for clergy since 2008. Pope Benedict XVI named him monsignor in 2013.
Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell will ordain him a bishop Feb. 11 at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Dallas. That date coincides with the day in 2002 when Bishop Farrell was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington. He has headed the Dallas Diocese since 2007.
Bishops from throughout Texas and the Southwest along with hundreds of priests, deacons, nuns, religious brothers and consecrated men and women from the Dallas Diocese of Dallas will be invited to join Bishop-designate Kelly’s family, friends and former parishioners at his ordination Mass.
“This is such a wonderful day,” Bishop Farrell said at a news conference at the diocesan Pastoral Center. “It’s great for the Diocese of Dallas.
“I could not think of a better person. He is such a hard-working priest. ... This is the pope sending a special Christmas gift to the Diocese of Dallas.”
He said his new brother bishop “is extremely well-respected by priests and parishioners alike. He has done an outstanding job as pastor and chaplain, and has been very helpful to me in his role as vicar for clergy.”
Bishop-designate Kelly’s appointment comes the same month as the diocese is concluding its 125th anniversary.
He will join Auxiliary Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, giving the fast-growing, nine-county diocese two auxiliary bishops for the first time since then-Auxiliary Bishop Mark J. Seitz of Dallas became the bishop of El Paso in 2013. The diocese has a total population of close to 4 million people, of whom close to 1.3 million, or 32 percent, are Catholic.
At the news conference, Bishop-designate Kelly’s voice occasionally revealed his emotions as he described his appointment as “a new grace from Christ and a new call to serve him in my love.” He had learned the pope was appointing him an auxiliary bishop while he was at a workshop in Indiana on Dec. 7.
He talked about his call to the priesthood, his arrival in Texas and his spiritual growth.
He blended reverence and humor as he spoke of his admiration for Pope Francis: “I’d do anything he asked me to do,” Bishop-designate Kelly said.
He said that it was good news that he will remain in Dallas, where he has served in a variety of positions.
John Gregory Kelly was born Feb. 15, 1956, in Le Mars, Iowa, one of five children of the late John Kelly and Marilean Kelly. He grew up in Colorado. He attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins before entering the seminary.
He pursued seminary studies at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, from 1976 to 1982. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in theology in 1978 and 1982, respectively, from the Catholic-run University of Dallas.
Assignments after his 1982 ordination included four years as an assistant pastor, then chaplain at University of Dallas from 1986 to 1996. He was founding pastor of St. Gabriel Parish in McKinney from 1996 to 2008.
He also has the diocese as vocation director, member of the priests’ council, member of the college of consultors, and interim rector at Holy Trinity Seminary.