Monday, November 18, 2013

Bishop Robert Vasa: While Catholics might not have abandoned Christ, significant numbers either walked away from church participation or “were forced to go to other Churches


Bishop Robert Vasa at the September 2009 grand opening of the Powell Butte Retreat Center in the Baker, Ore., diocese.

Prior to becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sympathized with the notion of a smaller, more orthodox Roman Catholic church. In his decade as bishop of the Baker diocese in Oregon, Robert F. Vasa in effect implemented Benedict’s idea, generating deep reactions of support as well as dissent.

Vasa left Baker earlier this month to become coadjutor bishop of Santa Rosa, Calif.

Many lament Vasa’s exit. Many others express delight or relief at his departure and wonder out loud if the temporary apostolic administrator, William Skylstad, retired bishop of Spokane, Wash., can provide pathways to unity in a polarized diocese.

The Baker diocese encompasses 18 counties of eastern Oregon -- 66,826 square miles or about one-and-a-half times the size of Tennessee. The area’s population has mushroomed since Vasa’s installation in January 2000. However, the number of Catholics has dropped from 39,853 in 2000 to 32,799 in 2010, according to the Official Catholic Directory.

The directory also reports a similar 18 percent drop in the “total students under Catholic instruction” -- from 3,809 to 3,110.

By Dan Morris-Young

Mar. 14, 2011

Notes: Robert Francis Vasa (born May 7, 1951) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. On Monday, January 24, 2011, Bishop Vasa, 59, was named the Coadjutor Bishop (an Auxiliary Bishop with the right of succession), to Bishop Daniel F. Walsh of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa in California, by Pope Benedict XVI. Until then, he had been the fifth Bishop of Baker, in Oregon, which with his new appointment became a vacant see (sede vacante).

On 30 June 2011, Bishop Daniel F. Walsh's resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI, and so Bishop Vasa officially succeeded him as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa in California immediately afterwards.

Robert F. Vasa was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Joe and Leona Vasa. From 1972 to 1976, he studied at Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas, Texas, from where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Glennon Patrick Flavin on May 22, 1976. He then served as a curate at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ and a teacher at Pius X High School in Lincoln until 1977, when he became an advocate on the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. In 1979 he was sent to further his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, earning a Licentiate of Canon Law in 1981.

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