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Bishop Farrell Farewell Interview August 19, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, huh?, It's all about the $$$, sadness, secularism, Society, the return, the struggle for the Church.

Via the Dallas Morning News, a farewell interview conducted with outgoing Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell.  I found two aspects of the interview quite starkly apparent – I’m sure  you’ll see what I mean below.  While the questions asked may have led the conversation in a certain direction, I was still struck by the lack of any mention of the supernatural/transcendent.  The other aspect I’ll flesh out a bit below.  BTW, I found the liberal Morning News’ headline unfair, as I’ll also discuss:

……..Farrell sat down for a conversation looking back at the changes in the Dallas diocese during his tenure — and assessing the needs his successor will face.

His responses have been lightly edited for clarity.


What did you do to assess the needs of the diocese?

“I spent my first three years traveling to parishes. I used to listen to people in the back of churches when they’d be going out of church on Sunday, and I would always stand and listen to them talk and they would complain to me about some things, and some were important.” [You guys here in Dallas remember seeing Bishop Farrell around parishes all the time, right, pretty much every Sunday?  Honestly, while there are 70 parishes in the Diocese, do you recall him at your parish more than once or twice, at most?  I have heard/read many, many complaints of Farrell’s lack of visibility/accessibility.]

“[But] I  never forgot after three or four years when I got an email from Plano, I won’t tell what parish, asking me, now that I’d been there for three years, when was I going to do something about the terrible condition of the parking lot at one of our parishes. People expected me to do everything and anything.” [Like defend the Doctrine of the Faith against heresy and immorality?]

What has changed in the diocese under your leadership?

“I believe that parishes work differently than they used to in many different aspects. I think I have brought lay people in to do the administration, overseeing everything that’s done.” [Is this supposed to be a good thing?  In my writing going back to the very beginning, lay staff have been one of the most consistent, gravest problems in the Diocese.  From Sister Rupp to Always Our Children, they almost always feature in some scandal or heartbreak]

“We have what we call the diocesan finance council. Here are lay men and women who are involved in all of what I would call the business aspect of the church, I have tried to get them to lead and take responsibility for doing that.  In our high schools, I have board of directors and boards of trustees that I have always tried to empower. To empower the laypeople to make the decisions, not me. I’m not atumblr_nwettqFiF21sztyb3o1_1280 businessman. I’m not even that interested in the business aspect. That’s not my thing and not my vocation. I may be mildly successful at it. But it’s not my desire, neither am I interested in it.”

What are the challenges your successor will face?

“Obviously the challenge we all face is the tremendous growth of this diocese. That is a challenge that will continue. I do hope I have recruited enough young people to enter the seminary over the years so that task will be a little easier. When I came here to the diocese, we had 17 people studying for the priesthood over at Holy Trinity Seminary. Today, we have at this moment 70.” [There is no question the seminary situation is far better than when Bishop Farrell arrived.  Now, there has been quite a bit of attrition in the seminaries, where a lot of guys drop out before ordination, but things were in a deplorable state under Grahmann and they’re now quite a bit better, but short of need, sadly.]  

“I did not open up many [Was MD the only one? Perhaps some nationality based ones?] new parishes for the specific reason that I didn’t have the staff to staff, the priest staff. I think that after about three more years, that will be alleviated, The diocese will start seeing some of these young men being ordained.”

What else will your successor need to focus on?

“I think the work of trying to integrate and trying to get our communities to work together. You have people on the north side of Dallas who have never been, who have no idea what the south of the Trinity River looks like.” [This is I guess where the DMN got their silly headline about “rich people getting out of their comfort zones.”  For those outside the area, the Trinity River acts as a sort of literal and figurative dividing line between North Dallas and South Dallas, “rich” Dallas and “poor” Dallas, although, more and more, the distinction has become blurred.  South Dallas historically has lacked investment.  I live in Irving but I technically live south of the Trinity. So that’s the reference.  As for Bishop Farrell’s statement……I again note that souls, salvation, conversion, rarely seem to enter in. Lots and lots of people I know go south of the Trinity regularly to visit/serve with the Carmelites and the Missionaries of Charity, or to go to the DFW National Cemetery.  This is rarely an issue for committed Catholics, for CINOs, maybe so]

How soon do you think Pope Francis will name your successor?

“I think it will be within two months after I leave. I know sometimes that can stretch out for a year. But it will not happen in a diocese as large as Dallas. We grow continually, from migrants coming from the north and immigrants coming from the south. “

Meh.  Again with the hints that a successor has all but been selected.  As a for instance, I can guarantee you Farrell knew he was leaving Dallas, going to Rome, and probably heading this dicastery months ago. Rome would not give a bishop only 2 weeks to wind up affairs in a diocese after nearly 10 years of leadership.  I guess we’ll see.

Well Godspeed Bishop Farrell, thank you for Mater Dei.  May your successor give true liberty to the TLM in the Diocese of Dallas.


1. richardmalcolm1564 - August 19, 2016

“I was still struck by the lack of any mention of the supernatural/transcendent.”

I’m struck by it when most churchmen make public comments these days. I’m struck by it pretty much every time Pope Francis makes a public utterance. One has the strong impression of listening to the CEO of a social service agency.

And while I can’t speak to what lurks in any individual soul or mind (let alone that of Bishop Farrell’s, it’s a telling pattern. Most probably really do operate in that mode, and may not even be fully conscious of it themselves. Even if priests came into their vocation with such an understanding, the way dioceses structure their priests’ lives can quickly erode it for all but the most devout and holy. And they no longer appreciate that the Church did NOT become the largest church in America, with 18,000 parishes and innumerable other institutions, because it set itself up as a social service agency.

Does anyone recall the three offices of the priesthood? 1) To teach, 2) to sanctify, and 3) to govern. AmChurch knows all about governing, and sometimes it even does it competently. Sanctifying is still admitted but mainly just because Church law requires it, almost entirely in the form of the sacraments, and in such a way that priests end up frequently reduced to the role of sacrament dispensing machines (especially if they are forced to cover multiple parishes due to priest shortages). And the teaching office? Nonexistent. Though there is a fair bit of pontificating that goes on in some places.

Gc5341 - August 19, 2016

“I was still struck by the lack of any mention of the supernatural/transcendent.”

Excellent observation. Bishop Farrell struck me more as a secular leader than a spiritual shepherd. The supernatural aspect of the Church is marginalized. Church leaders are intent on being accepted by the secular world. Instead of seeking God’s will first they seek the world’s approval.

Judy - August 24, 2016

Exactly! My husband brought our boys to some event where Bishop Farrell addressed a large group of boys (probably a Columbian Squires thing). He came home really annoyed that the bishop had pretty much left God, Jesus, the saints, and anything spiritual out of the talk. He said it was more like a motivational talk by some secular self-help guru. Honestly, I don’t understand why so many Catholics get all worked up about “the BISHOP is going to be there.” Meh. Most of them are fairly milquetoast.

2. The Athenian Stranger - August 19, 2016

Staff? Staff?

3. Woody - August 19, 2016

That is the problem with many priests, bishops, popes. They are administrators who happen to be priests instead of priests who happen to be administrators.

Tantumblogo - August 19, 2016

It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to get that from the bishop himself.

Peter - August 20, 2016


4. DFW Catholic - August 20, 2016

“I believe that parishes work differently than they used to in many different aspects. I think I have brought lay people in to do the administration, overseeing everything that’s done.” — In my experience not always a good thing. Not that the laity in such positions are necessarily immoral or promote literally bad ministries. Just that they seem to lack the requisite gifts for their positions — both earthly and spiritual gifts. I mean when you have someone on parish staff responsible for some fairly important things running around literally saying “I don’t know what I’m doing,” and it’s true, it hardly inspires confidence.


“Obviously the challenge we all face is the tremendous growth of this diocese. That is a challenge that will continue…from migrants coming from the north and immigrants coming from the south. “ Is it correct to call Americans moving within their country migrants ? Is it fair to leave out the word “illegal” when referring to the southern invasion ? Maybe we wouldn’t be so short of priests if the self-induced population crisis from the “south” weren’t happening…

I was one of those “migrants” fifty years ago as a child. One of those kids of “yankees” and yes, I’m actually still going to church — haven’t left yet, as one commenter to this blog (another post) predicted would happen with people such as myself.

Judy - August 24, 2016

That’s a good point about the failure to even identify the problem of illegal immigration.
I remember growing up at a large parish that had three priests and one secretary. I think they had someone to clean the rectory and church, since the priests were all older. But there were no paid “youth ministry” or “business manager” positions.
Take a look at the “Contact Us” page for St. Jude Parish in Allen. Apparently they need a Parish Administrator, Parish Secretary, Safe Environment Program Director, Business Manager, Accounts Payable/Parish Membership, Director of Communications, Communications Manager, Multimedia Manager, Director of Music Ministries, Organist/Choirmaster, Chorister’s Youth Director, “Pastoral Associate”, Systematic Theologian-in-Residence (shouldn’t that be a priest?), Adult Formation Coordinator, Faith Formation Director, Children’s Ministries Admin, JYM Coordinator, Life Teen Coordinator, and receptionists for two buildings. All of this is in addition to three priests and two deacons. How many of these non-ordained individuals are paid positions? If the answer is more than three, they’ve got a problem.

5. David - August 21, 2016

I do remember Bishop Farrell visiting on occasion at our parish, and one of those times giving a pro life homily from the pulpit, and this was the fall of 2008. I was glad he did a homily on that subject.

In the future, when a bishop visits a Parish, I would like him to do what Bishop Vann was doing in the Diocese of Orange. Bishop Vann will oftentimes turn his visit into a weekend, which gives an opportunity for a more thorough visit. I also admired Bishop Burbidge from the Diocese of Raleigh, who in the first few years of his reign often made visits unannounced, and even invited himself at one Parish to review religious education.

6. Gary - August 22, 2016

The good bishop is used to red carpets, big chairs, and donations

7. KathiBee - August 22, 2016

A couple of things –

I read somewhere (DMN I think — they’ve run articles on this two days now – Saturday & Sunday. Saturday’s was on the front page, above the fold) that Bishop Farrell was contacted back in mid- May about this new position. So not a recent appointment, he’s known for nearly 3 months now.

I was glad to get some insight from a priest who was ordained early in Bishop Farrell’s time here. He was in the seminary when the previous Bishop, Grahmann, was here. He spoke about the Chrism Masses that were held & how AWFUL- & that is not a strong enough word – they were.

Many priests boycotted them. There were leotard clad women processing down the aisle with the altar cloth, followed by people bearing a pole with rainbow ribbons who were doing some sort of two-step dance. The women would put the altar cloth on the altar & then dance around it waving incense around. He said it was just a travesty. if I hadn’t heard this from this particular priest, I don’t know that I would’ve believed it.

He said that the first year Bishop Farrell came, it was a complete change and all done strictly according to protocol. And now it is well attended by priests.

This priest also mentioned something I’d forgotten about. Back in about 2005/2006 (pre-Farrell), a mandate came down from the Diocese that parishes were to start forming committees who would start the process for parishes to start preparing for the time when our Diocese would not have enough priests. The faithful were going to need to start getting comfortable with more parishes being administered by deacons, not having Mass available every Sunday at every parish, “Communion Services” run by lay people (in lieu of Mass), less Confessions available at individual parishes/ more “Reconciliation Services” & the like.

At the parish we were at, and another larger one near by, I remember these things happening. When our sole priest went on vacation, the female adult DRE head conducted a “Communion Service” during daily Mass time. I remember attending parish meetings when there was much discussion about how long it would be until this state of affairs would become reality & if our newer parish would survive.

This priest was saying that when Bishop Farrell came in, he immediately ceased the program, & basically said something like, “we don’t need programs like this, we need more priests! And we’re going to get them”. And he has. When this priest was in the seminary, there were ELEVEN men the whole time he was there studying for the priesthood. And now there are over 70.

Many of them are from the Neo Catechumanal Way, so not strictly from Dallas — and many are not being formed for our Diocese. Our son has a friend there who is from a Diocese in NM – this is where they send their guys. But still, going from 11 to 70 in ten years is impressive.

So while I certainly wish Bishop Farrell had a more open mind to traditionally-minded souls in his Diocese, and I certainly wish he would speak more strongly on non-PC issues & defended doctrine, he has made some improvements that I don’t think should be discounted or looked upon as insignificant.

I am certainly praying for our next Bishop fervently. Pope Francis’ appointments have gone the spectrum — in KC, he made a more conservative appointment, in Chicago, he couldn’t have gone much further left.

DM - August 22, 2016

Good comment KathiBee. I hadn’t known things were that deplorably bad when Farrell arrived. I guess he deserves at least a bit more credit than I’ve been giving him.

Tantumblogo - August 23, 2016

I went to the Chrism Mass at the cathedral in 1999. Was required to for RCIA. All I remember was the deplorable state Grahmann let the cathedral fall into – falling plaster, cracked beams, decrepit light fixtures – which he did as a sort of tactical ploy to convince jurists how poor the diocese was when it came to the Rudy Kos payout.

As for liturgical abuses, I wouldn’t have really known one had there been any, but I don’t recall seeing them.

Tantumblogo - August 23, 2016

Thanks for the comment. I agree with what you say, but would counter – gently – that it’s more than just PC pronouncements. Always Our Faithful is a disaster of the first order, and I find the timing of his support for this highly interesting, since, if he knew of this appointment in mid-May, he announced his demand that Always Our Faithful be welcomed by pastors in parishes throughout the diocese at the May conclave of priests at almost exactly the same time.

And there’s more, of course. It’s a bit hard for me to get over the plain double-dealing I was involved in with regard to Rupp/Gaillardetz/et. al. and the whole Novus Ordo Latin thing. And hang on for another small announcement to that end in a minute.

But, yes, he was a vast improvement over both of his two predecessors, who were as liberal as they come and permitted the diocese to fall to a state of near-collapse. It is definitely a much, much better situation today. But he was hardly a beacon of orthodoxy. An able administrator, yes, a vast improvement, yes, but a true shepherd of souls, sadly, no.

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