More than 5,000 Catholics — including about 50 bishops and archbishops — filled Irvine’s Bren Events Center Dec. 10 to witness the installation of the fourth bishop of Orange. “Thank you,” said apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano to Bishop Kevin Vann early in the Mass, “for your generosity in answering your call.”Indeed, Bishop Vann wholeheartedly answered the call to Orange from the moment it was made. Less than a month after his appointment was announced, he traveled from the Diocese of Fort Worth — which he’s led for the last seven years — to Orange County to lead the prayer service concluding the Diocesan Ministries Celebration. On other whirlwind trips to his new diocese, he has made great inroads getting to know the laypeople and clergy of Orange County, as well as its parishes. His desire to immerse himself in the Diocese of Orange was made explicit in his homily at the installation Mass, which tied together his experiences in his home Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, in Kenrick Seminary at St. Louis, and in the Diocese of Fort Worth, with the history of the Diocese of Orange and of the church in California. Citing St. Kateri Tekakwitha as a role model, he noted that she is represented in the retablo behind the altar at Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano. He also compared the Catholics of Orange County to the 110-foot-tall Moreton Bay fig planted outside the rectory at Holy Family Cathedral: like the tree, the community has deep roots, and like the tree it has many soaring branches — of various cultures, communities and ecclesial movements. Still, as Bishop Vann has noted over the weeks since his Sept. 21 appointment, leaving a beloved community — even with a desire to get to know another — is not easy. “I’ve had to trade ball caps a couple times, you know?” he quipped. Worshipers’ chuckles turned to cheers as the bishop whipped out his Angels baseball cap — one of the welcome gifts given to him by the Diocese of Orange upon the announcement of his new appointment.The Mass was a warm celebration of both welcome and thanksgiving, and despite the size of the crowd felt rather more intimate than the Evening Prayer held the night before at the future Christ Cathedral’s Arboretum — the first worship site on the former Crystal Cathedral campus — which was so crowded that not all the people in attendance could actually squeeze into the event. As at the Evening Prayer, though, attendees’ enthusiasm was loud and consistent. Worshipers shouted and whistled as Bishop Vann was seated in the cathedra, the bishop’s seat. Applause thundered throughout the arena. Vietnamese and Korean Catholics responded more than warmly to phrases Bishop Vann spoke in their languages throughout the quadrilingual Mass (the homily, primarily in English, included a substantial amount of Spanish).“It was a moving experience for all of us in Orange,” said Trudy Mazzarella, director of tourism ministry at the future Christ Cathedral, “and not only for now, but for the future.” Bishop Vann started his homily by thanking now-retired Orange Bishop Tod Brown. “Thanks to you, Tod, for your friendship to me all these years — for all the things you’ve done for me, and with the priests, with formation, with education,” Bishop Vann said, painting a glowing picture of his new diocese. He then thanked his recently-widowed father, who was watching the installation from home in Illinois via a live internet broadcast. “Who I am now, Dad, is greatly because of you,” he said. He went on to speak about the city of St. Louis — a sort of metaphorical home base that provided a fun childhood destination, later becoming the site of his formation to the priesthood.Along with Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, King and the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the Mississippi River was one of the first sights to greet him when he visited the city, Bishop Vann recalled. “It could be placid and calm, or it could be relentless,” he added. Like the river, he said, “the winds and culture of our society can pull us in different directions and weaken our mission. “We need to remember each day that God is here. We, like that Mississippi River, indeed keep rolling along.”Following the Mass, as he crossed the foyer of the to the reception site, people clustered about him. Smiling, greeting and blessing parishioners, he made his way — seemingly unaware that some of the people he blessed were so thrilled to have encountered the new bishop that they stopped to do a little dance amid the crowd. UC Irvine freshman Leann Kampley, 18, ran from her final exam — which finished at 12:30 p.m. — to make the 1 p.m. seating deadline at the Bren Events Center, which is on the UCI campus. “It was really moving,” said the resident of San Diego County. “It’s crazy how everyone is welcoming the new bishop.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1214/orange/{/gallery}