When I think of the diversity of parishes in the Diocese of Austin, I am fascinated by their uniqueness, their diversity, their individuality. We have parishes that serve academic communities, rural communities, others that are completely urban in their makeup. Throw in linguistic differences and various forms of apostolic zeal. Needless to say, these parishes cover the whole range of economic diversity as well. What a mix!
What ties all this together? What creates unity about which the Church cares so much in these 125 communities of faith scattered across 25,000 miles of Central Texas? Well, of course, it is the faith itself. The parishioners of St. Michael’s in Uhland and the parishioners of St. Jerome’s in Waco all share their common faith in Jesus Christ and his teachings. That is very true. However, on a day-by-day basis, it is the office of bishop that provides that necessary and beautiful unity. In a very real sense, each parish has two pastors. The first is the canonical pastor who is there with them sanctifying, teaching and healing day by day, and then the bishop who stands side by side with every pastor in the Diocese uniting them together through his office.
This reality is dramatized most effectively with all the priests of the Diocese joining the bishop at the Cathedral where he blesses the sacred oils in large containers and sends them out by the pastors to the various churches. The oil used in baptism at St. Michael’s is one with the oil used while baptizing babies at St. Jerome’s. Many parishes, one bishop, one faith, one destiny.