Since submitting his resignation in November 2011, in accordance with canon law requiring bishops to submit their resignation upon reaching age 75, Bishop Tod Brown of Orange observed, “Speculation has been rampant in our diocese.”The identity of his successor, the fourth bishop of Orange, was the subject of “clergy cocktail gossip” and the cause of “furrowed brows among the [chancery] staff,” he said at a press conference on Sept. 21.“Today,” he added, “the speculation ends.” Bishop Kevin W. Vann, 61, of the Diocese of Fort Worth, was announced as the next bishop of Orange. Bishop Brown was advised of the new appointment by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal nuncio for the United States.Introducing his successor to chancery staff, media, and guests invited to the press conference, Bishop Brown highlighted Bishop Vann’s accomplishments and experiences that make him well-suited for his new assignment. Like the Diocese of Orange, Fort Worth has a significant Hispanic community — about half the population. Orange County also is home to the greatest Vietnamese population outside Vietnam, while under Bishop Vann — who speaks Spanish and is learning Vietnamese — the Diocese of Fort Worth built the largest Vietnamese Catholic church in the United States. Fort Worth is also home to Tongan and Korean communities, as is the Diocese of Orange. Bishop Vann was one of three bishops originally appointed by the Vatican to oversee the creation of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter — a nationwide body analogous to a diocese, designed for Anglicans wishing to enter the Catholic Church while retaining elements of their Anglican patrimony. In July, Bishop Brown received members of the Blessed John Henry Newman Society into the church — and ordained a married former Anglican priest as a Catholic priest. Bishop Vann’s seven years in Fort Worth have been a “dynamic period of growth,” Bishop Brown noted, pointing out that the demands for comprehensive pastoral services in that diocese were “not unlike those we have experienced in our own Diocese of Orange.”The Diocese of Forth Worth recently completed its capital campaign, raising $55 million — a feat in these challenging economic times, Bishop Vann pointed out in an interview with Orange County Catholic. The Diocese of Orange is poised to launch its first-ever capital campaign, which will support local Catholic schools, retired priests, and the renovation of the former Crystal Cathedral, which will become the diocese’s Christ Cathedral. “We are all blessed by his selection,” concluded Bishop Brown, turning to his successor and promising, “I will do all I can to make sure your transition is both enjoyable and productive.” In turn, Bishop Vann noted that he and Bishop Brown have known each other for 31 years, and that Orange Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Luong coincidentally visited the Diocese of Fort Worth last December for the dedication of the Vietnamese Martyrs Church. Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez welcomed the appointment of Bishop Vann, noting that “Bishop Vann possesses the pastoral sensitivity and leadership skills to serve the faithful of the Diocese of Orange well into the future. In addition to being geographic neighbors, both the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange are blessed with similarly dynamic, diverse and large Catholic populations. I look forward to collaborating with him for the good of the faithful in both of our local churches.”Illinois nativeBishop Vann, 61, was born on May 10, 1951 in Springfield, Illinois. The oldest of six children, he graduated from Springfield’s St. Agnes Grade and Griffin High Schools, attended Springfield College and earned a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from Millikin University. After working three years as a medical technologist, he entered the seminary in l976, spending a year at the Immaculate Conception Diocesan Seminary in Springfield and four years at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, majoring in theology. He was ordained a priest May 30, l981, and was assigned to graduate studies in Canon Law at the Angelicum in Rome. Upon returning to the Diocese of Springfield, he was involved in the work of the Diocesan Tribunal and the Tribunal of Second Instance in Chicago. He served as pastor, taught Canon Law at Kenrick Seminary, and served as Springfield’s Vicar for Priests and the diocesan contact for Hispanic Ministry. A canon law scholar and accomplished pianist, Bishop Vann was appointed the coadjutor bishop of Fort Worth in 2005. But his predecessor, Bishop Joseph Delaney, died the day before Bishop Vann’s episcopal ordination, thrusting him into his new role earlier than anticipated. This appointment has a very different feel, he said. Encompassing all of Orange County — less than 800 square miles — the Diocese of Orange is not as big as the 25,000-square-mile, 28-county-wide Diocese of Forth Worth, he said, “but it has a similar dynamic.”The 782-square-mile Orange Diocese has a current Catholic population of 1.3 million with 58 parishes. Its roots can be traced to the establishment of Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776 by Blessed Junípero Serra, the seventh in the chain of California missions. Two hundred years later, Pope Paul VI established the Diocese of Orange (it had been part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles), consisting of Orange County, and named Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop William Johnson as the first bishop of Orange. After Bishop Johnson died in July 1986, Auxiliary Bishop John Steinbock served as apostolic administrator until Bishop Norman McFarland was installed as the second bishop of Orange in February 1987, serving until his retirement in 1998. Bishop Vann agreed with Bishop Brown that his experience makes him a good fit for this new assignment. “God prepares you from one stage of your life to the next,” he said. Leaving behind his Fort Worth “family” will be challenging, he admitted, but he looks forward to getting to know his new “family” in Southern California. “With God’s help, I will love you and do my best to serve you,” he declared. “I promise you.” Bishop Vann repeated his speech in Spanish, getting big smiles and applause from Spanish-speakers in the audience. Msgr. Michael Heher, Orange Vicar General, followed up with a presentation of gifts to welcome Bishop Vann to the diocese. Among them were Oakley sunglasses (which Bishop Vann promptly donned), an Angels’ baseball cap, a “Proud to be Catholic” cap from the Orange Catholic Foundation, sunblock, a basket of oranges — and a bottle of window cleaner for that crystal cathedral.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0928/vann/{/gallery}