Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Joseph E. Strickland will be ordained as the fourth and newest bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tyler during a 2 p.m. Mass Wednesday at Tyler's Caldwell Auditorium.
As prelate of the 33-county diocese that covers all of Northeast Texas, Bishop Strickland not only becomes a member of the College of Bishops serving the universal church, but in Catholic tradition, he is is part of the ancient line of apostolic succession that stretches back 2,000 years to Christ's 12 Apostles.
“Bishop” is from the Greek episkopos and its Latin equivalent, episcopus, to “oversee” and in the days of the early church, the term was used for those designated to oversee Christian communities and perform priestly and administrative functions in those churches, according to Catholic East Texas, newspaper of the Diocese of Tyler.
“In the very earliest days of the church, the term episkopos was used interchangeably with presbyteros, or “elder,” the word from which “priest” derives.
“But by the second century, the term was already clearly used in the sense of the office or order of bishop, with duties and responsibilities distinct from those of priests,” the paper states. “The authority of bishops has been handed down from the 12 Apostles in apostolic succession.”
According to Catholic East Texas:
– A bishop is responsible for ordaining other clergy, such as priests and deacons; conducting the rite of confirmation; visiting parishes within their jurisdictions and conducting church activities. He is assisted by others in such works as missionary endeavors, Christian education, social relations, ecumenical activities, finance and jurisdiction.
– His jurisdiction of a bishop is normally over a diocese which comprises a particular geographic area, and includes missions and parishes, but schools, chapels, hospitals and other church-run institution.
– The bishop has the full ministry of the priesthood and also the power to ordain lower clergy, such as priests and deacons, to consecrate other bishops, to set aside for sacred use churches, altars and vessels, and to receive the vows of those entering religious life.
– At one time, bishops served the people of their dioceses until infirmity or death. Today, bishops are required to submit their resignations to the pope upon reaching their 75th birthdays, although the pope may delay accepting the resignation.
Strickland, 53, was raised in Cass County, where his family were founding members of the Catholic parish in Atlanta. He was ordained a priest of the Dallas Diocese in 1984, becoming a priest of the Tyler Diocese when it was erected in 1987.
He has served at parishes in Nacogdoches, Mount Pleasant, Henderson and Tyler, and has served at the diocesan level in different capacities over the years.
In 1996, Pope John Paul II named him a monsignor.
As bishop of the Tyler Diocese, he will oversee 71 parishes and missions, working with 88 priests, 87 deacons and a large number of religious men and women serving an estimated 80,000 Catholics in the region.