SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — After more than a year without a bishop, the Diocese of Shreveport met and introduced its new bishop to the public at news conference Tuesday morning.
Leaders of the diocese got their first look at their next bishop after a 14-month wait by the 41,000 members in North Louisiana.
Many of them are connected with Catholic schools.
“We have been looking for someone just like him and praying for someone just like him who comes to us with experience of Catholic schools, the love of Catholic schools and can grow those Catholic schools and identify who they are,” said Sister Carol Shively, the Catholic Schools superintendent.
Monsignor Francis Malone comes from Little Rock, Ark. He soon will become the third bishop of the diocese that covers North Louisiana.
During questions at the end of the news conference, I tried asking him to explain to non-Catholics the role of bishops in the Catholic Church.
Instead, the unusual wording of my question caused some laughs.
Reporter: "How would you explain how big a, I guess it's, 'How big a deal are you?'" as the laughs began.
Without missing a beat, Malone responded in deadpan delivery.
"I'm a big shot!
“No, no, no, no no,” as Malone waved his hands back and forth to make sure everyone knew it was a joke.
Along with the monsignor’s well-known sense of humor comes what supporters describe as a wealth of knowledge and the role he is supposed to play in the church.
"How can I best be a spiritual father to you? And how can we work together to bring about the kingdom and the lives of people that need it the most."
One of the very first questions you get when someone comes into a new position like this: "When are we likely to see some of the changes?"
But this bishop-elect had a surprising answer; in fact, almost opposite of what some may expect.
Malone said it’s far more effective to get to know everyone, share ideas and then collectively, when it’s time to make changes big and small, do so as a team.
He is scheduled to be consecrated as a bishop at 2 p.m. Jan. 28.