Peers, colleagues rejoice in new appointment

June 29, 2021

Bishop-Elect Italo Dell'Oro is seen during a June 2021 Ordination Mass in Houston. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — Deacon Phillip Jackson vividly remembers opening the email message announcing that Father Italo Dell’Oro had been named the next auxiliary bishop of Galveston-Houston.

“A big smile came over my face,” recalls Deacon Jackson, the director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate. “The words that came to mind were those from the Rite of Infant Baptism, ‘the Church of God receives you with great joy.’ The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston receives you with great joy! Wow! What a blessing!”

It was a sentiment shared by many around the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, including those in the chancery system. Besides serving the local Church for almost 30 years, Bishop-Elect Dell’Oro has been director of the Secretariat of Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services since 2015.

“We have worked closely together on many projects. Anyone who has met, worked or served with now-Bishop-Elect Italo saw a man who always has a smile on his face,” Deacon Jackson said. “He is a man who is a joyful priest, and he will bring that joy to his new role as auxiliary bishop. Bishop-Elect Italo says he wants to share the Gospel of Hope. When you live the Gospel of Hope, you can’t help but have joy in your heart and a smile on your face.”

“Bishop-elect Italo, ‘the Church of God receives you with great joy!’”

Father Norbert Maduzia Jr., a co-chair of the Ongoing Formation of Priests and pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Spring, said Bishop-Elect Dell’Oro has been a dedicated servant to his brother priests, “seeking out the good that challenges and inspires priestly zeal.”

“Bishop Italo is always able to spur on deeper thought and conversation on how our brother priests can best be served in ongoing formation,” Father Maduzia said. “His insightful suggestions allow for a practical way to discern the needs of our brothers, to deepen their commitment to the pastoral care of their parishioners and a deepened commitment to ministry.”

Father Sean Horrigan said the bishop-elect always strived to accommodate and support the priests of the Archdiocese.

“He was instrumental in helping our committee revive the New Priests Orientation Program that we conduct each year for those priests who are beginning their ministry in our local Church, whether they are newly ordained or recently assigned here by their respective religious order,” said Father Horrigan, Ongoing Formation of Priests co-chair and pastor of Christ the Redeemer Church. “He has championed a sense of inclusion so that those who serve here have a sense of the history of our Archdiocese, those whose shoulders we stand on, and an orientation to serve the people of God.”

Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly of Dallas has seen the bishop-elect’s commitment to serving clergy firsthand in their many interactions over the years.

“What always comes through in his words and actions is a joyful spirit and a willingness to do anything he can do to help others, especially his brother priests,” Bishop Kelly said. “Coming from another country himself, he has been especially attentive to the needs of international priests serving in the Archdiocese, helping them to feel at home and ready to serve in a different culture. He will bring this joy and enthusiastic willingness to serve the Lord and his people to his episcopal ministry.”

Father Horrigan said the Somascan priest brings a unique perspective to our local Church as “one who, like so many of the 1.7 million Catholics who call the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston home, was born elsewhere but who came to minister to any and all entrusted to his pastoral care.”

Though after 30 years of living and serving in Galveston-Houston, Father Horrigan said the bishop-elect “seems to be right at home. I think he’s lived here longer than anywhere in his life, so though he still carries his Italian accent, it’s picked up a little bit of a Texas twang along the way.”

Deacon Alvin Lovelady, Correctional Ministries director, said he has great respect for the bishop-elect’s “matter of fact” way of reaching decisions.

“He is there for me whenever I need advice or matters resolved,” Deacon Lovelady said. “Now is the time for all of us to receive the blessings and graces that will come from the elevation of Father Italo Dell’Oro to bishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. God bless you, Father Italo. Thank you for saying yes!”

Father Reginald Samuels, vicar for Catholics of African Descent and pastor at St. Hyacinth Church in Deer Park, said the bishop-elect has been a great advocate for the various Catholic communities in the Archdiocese. “I am looking forward to working with Bishop-Elect Italo, in his capacity as auxiliary bishop, in helping to address the needs and bring awareness to the issues that affect the Catholic community of African descent,” he said.

Father Jan Kubisa, Port of Houston chaplain, also expressed his gratitude on Father Dell’Oro’s appointment to bishop. “We are very excited about the news,” Father Kubisa said. “We have appreciated all of his assistance with port chaplaincy.”

Karen Parsons, OFS, who retired last year after serving several decades as a port chaplain in Galveston for the Archdiocese, said her reaction to the news of the bishop-elect’s appointment was “one of joy for him and one of amazement for me. He is the third priest who was my supervisor who became a bishop.”

In the role of Secretariat of Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services director, Bishop-Elect Dell’Oro was preceded by Bishop Brendan Cahill of Victoria and Bishop George A. Sheltz in Galveston-Houston.

Parsons said that “right from the start, (Bishop-Elect Dell’Oro was) truly interested in my port ministry in the Ports of Galveston and Texas City. He listened attentively to my reports and always encouraged me to keep up the good work. During the pandemic, he approved of my shift from on-board ministry to correspondence ministry at the height of the outbreak. There was never a downtime in my ministry, and he appreciated my efforts to keep the mission going.”

The retired port chaplain added that the bishop-elect “has a good heart and a light sense of humor. I will be praying for him to get enough rest and be able to serve our Archdiocese well.”

Hilda Ochoa, the Mission Office director, said she is delighted to join the local faithful in congratulating Bishop-Elect Italo Dell’Oro as the new auxiliary bishop.

“From a ‘mission’ point of view, I am particularly grateful for his wise leadership and his zeal for the Kingdom of Christ during these past five years,” she said. “I am sure he will use his many talents, gifts and experience with generosity and faithfulness as he continues to serve God in his new position. The Mission Office and our local missionary community wish him abundant blessings and continued prayers for a fruitful ministry in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston for many years to come.”

While excited about the news of Father Dell’Oro being named auxiliary bishop, Catholic Chaplain Corps (CCC) Director Denice Foose said that the announcement was a mixed blessing for her ministry.

“As Secretariat of Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services director, he has provided invaluable leadership to the CCC, and his support has enabled the mission of this vital ministry to advance in remarkable ways,” she said. “We are indebted to him and will certainly miss his pastoral leadership, in addition to his warmth and genuine respect for persons. His low-key personality belies strength and confidence. Still waters run deep.”

Foose said Bishop-Elect Dell’Oro has been a strong advocate for the CCC’s ministry and team members.

“He has actively supported the CCC priests in their specialized ministry in hospital settings,” she said, adding that the bishop-elect embraced the creation of the strategic lay chaplain position and “each colleague in this unique ministry of direct patient care and coordination of sacramental coverage.”

“Moreover, he has empowered the pastoral care ministry of trained Catholic laypersons, called pastoral visitors,” she said.

Through his advocacy of these CCC ministries, “the Archdiocese’s outreach to Catholic patients, their families and healthcare professionals has been significantly enhanced,” Foose said. “His support of the administrative leadership of the CCC has been exceedingly strong and generous.”

Foose said she and the CCC rejoice knowing Bishop-Elect Dell’Oro will remain in the Archdiocese and will further advance God’s kingdom from his new position.
“Thank you, Father Italo, for strengthening our faith and empowering all of us to further the mission of the Church and spread the love of Christ.”