The following comes from a December 11 story on the Catholic News Agency website.

In his first homily as head of the Orange diocese, Bishop Kevin Vann urged Catholics to help build up the Body of Christ and to shape the culture, not be shaped by it.

“We are gathered here in this God-given moment … as the Body of Christ, as the family of God, in our common mission to bring once again the good news of Jesus Christ in the world,” he said Dec. 10.

“By the hand of God, I believe, we have been brought together, as the Scripture says, as the stream that gladdens the city of God.”

Bishop Vann was installed as head of the Diocese of Orange in a Mass at the Bren Events Center on the campus of the University of California – Irvine. He previously led the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas.

About 250 priests, 50 bishops and thousands of Catholic laity attended the Mass. Public officials and religious leaders like Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. also greeted the fourth Bishop of Orange.

The entrance procession included Aztec dancers, Vietnamese incense bearers and a Knights of Columbus honor guard. The Mass readings were in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, while the Lord’s Prayer was said in the various languages used in the diocese.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles opened the Mass with the sign of the cross. Cardinal Roger Mahony, the emeritus Archbishop of Los Angeles, presided over the Mass as the senior prelate.

Bishop Vann, 61, gave his homily in both English and Spanish. He said Catholics can be united despite their different backgrounds….

The bishop recalled his experience of the powerful Mississippi River, which he crossed during trips from his hometown of Springfield, Ill. to St. Louis.

“Certainly, like the currents of the Mississippi, the winds and currents of our culture and society can frighten us and threaten to push our lives in different directions and weaken our unity and mission. But in the end, we know, that can never happen.”

Bishop Vann reminded the faithful that their lives are “directly shaped truly by the hand of God.”

“Like the spire of the old cathedral in St. Louis, we need to remember each day that God is here and that our lives give testimony to that,” he said. “Let us remember always that our mission is to shape the currents of our times with that faith, as the stream that gladdens the city of God, and not be shaped by them.”

Bishop Vann is the oldest of six children. He worked as a medical technologist before entering the seminary in 1976. He was ordained a priest in 1981 and is a specialist in canon law.

He serves as the Vatican’s delegate for the special pastoral provision that helps Episcopal and Anglican clergy and laity enter the Catholic Church.

He is a member of both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and of the conference’s Canonical Affairs Committee.

To read the entire story, click here.