'True in Faith and Teaching'

May 22, 2012

HOUSTON — Promising to be a humble servant to God and His people and dedicating his ministry to the Blessed Mother, George Arthur Sheltz was ordained the new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on May 2 amidst a packed cathedral of jubilant supporters of the native Houstonian, who is appointed to help lead one of the nation’s most dynamic dioceses. 

Bishop Sheltz is only the seventh auxiliary bishop to be ordained in the oldest and largest diocese in Texas. He will assist Daniel Cardinal DiNardo in shepherding more than 1.2 million Catholics across 10 counties, 146 parishes and 59 schools. 

“I will be true in faith and in teaching,” the newly ordained bishop said in comments near the close of the ordination Mass. “I hope that I will govern with great care and compassion and love. I know that it takes a lot of prayer and hard work to do that.”

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, principal consecrator and celebrant, 18 bishops from around the country and more than 200 clergy were present for the ordination at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, during which Bishop Sheltz was anointed with the sacred chrism, signifying his full share in the priesthood of Christ through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Bishop Sheltz, who was appointed on Feb. 21, said he was deeply moved and humbled that Pope Benedict XVI had chosen him to help lead the beloved Archdiocese where he was born, raised, educated and ordained to the priesthood. 

Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz gets ready for his Mass of Ordination.

“I ask you to pray for me and keep me in your prayers so that I can be that humble servant I have been called to be, but also so to help me keep a sense of humor and to be there when people need me, to be able to listen to them and to be able to help them in anything I can do,” Bishop Sheltz said. In doing so, he said he sought to model his life after the Blessed Mother.

“My mother always said that [Mary] was a simple person, but she was always there, was always supporting, always loving. She never did anything for herself, but for other people,” he said.

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo anoints Auxiliary Bishop Sheltz with sacred oil.

During his homily, Cardinal DiNardo spoke about the role of a bishop within in the Church, which is to teach, sanctify and govern, and how special it was to have a shepherd who had spent his whole life among his flock in one diocese.

“What a gracious act of the Holy Father to grant us a local priest to be our new auxiliary. How much it says about the priests of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston that one of their number is considered, as the Pope says, ‘apt with ecclesial experience’ to serve as a bishop,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

Those who were present marveled at the spirit of joy in ordaining a man who will walk the footsteps of an apostle as an apostle of Christ Himself. 
“It was awesome. The Mass was so beautiful. It nearly brought me to tears,” said Mary Collins of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Barrett Station. 

Margaret Laird, of Sacred Heart Parish in Manville, said Bishop Sheltz had recently brought communion to her ailing husband and also performed the Anointing of the Sick for him a week before his death. Bishop Sheltz, she said, had celebrated first Friday Mass for their parish community for years.
“We always considered him a nice parish priest who made house calls. Now look at him,” Laird said.

A priest for more than 40 years, Bishop Sheltz’ story in faith began in a family of men and women deeply committed to the Church. 

His father, Deacon George Sheltz Sr., was in the first class of permanent deacons ordained for the diocese in 1972. Bishop Sheltz’ late brother, Anton Sheltz, was ordained a priest in Houston 1976. His uncle, Monsignor Anton Frank, was the first native Houstonian to be ordained for the diocese in 1933. 

The papal bull, a letter issued by the pope, confirms the pope’s blessing for George A. Sheltz to become bishop.

His maternal grandmother and Margaret Sheltz, his mother, both now deceased, and his sister Mary Margaret Keen, were also profoundly devoted to the faith. 

“They taught me by their example what it means to be a Catholic, what it means to be a Christian and even what it means to be a priest. They taught me you’re not in it for yourself. You’re in it to share your blessings and your gifts,” Bishop Sheltz said during a vespers service on the eve of his ordination. 

Bishop Sheltz, the middle of three children, was educated in Houston’s Catholic schools, including Annunciation Catholic School and St. Thomas High School, where he made the decision to enter the priesthood. He then went onto the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary Seminary for his formation.

Bishop Sheltz was ordained in 1971 and spent 36 years as a parish priest.

“I promised myself that I was going to be a humble servant,” Bishop Sheltz recalled at his vespers service.

“The thing I remember about my [priestly] ordination most is kneeling in front of Bishop Morkovsky. He takes my hands between his hands and he says, ‘Do you promise me obedience? And all of my successors?’ And I said ‘yes,’” Bishop Sheltz continued. 

Auxiliary Bishop Sheltz’ wears his miter, which he will now wear as part of liturgical dress during Mass.

That vow guided his life as a priest, especially when accepting challenging assignments. Bishop Sheltz said he never imagined having to answer directly to the pope.

During his priesthood, Bishop Sheltz served at Assumption, Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral and St. Vincent de Paul churches. He was the founding pastor of Christ the Redeemer and served as pastor at both Prince of Peace and St. Anthony of Padua parishes, all within the Archdiocese.

In 2007, Bishop Sheltz became Archdiocesan Director of Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services. Since 2010, he has served as Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese, overseeing the administrative operations for the Archdiocese, the 12th largest in the nation. 

The Feb. 21 papal appointment also named Bishop Sheltz as Titular Bishop of Irina.