Every so often, you run across an article that sings. The Dallas Morning News’ front-page piece on the area's incoming Catholic bishop was one of them. And we're talking smack-in-the-middle, above-the-fold placement.
Having recently lived in Alaska, I cannot imagine having to move 3,422 miles from lovely, isolated Juneau, where bald eagles are everywhere and king crab gets sold from the city dock (at least when my family lived there) to flat, hot Dallas.
Yet, this is the fate of Dallas’ new bishop. And the writer gets to the story through an amusing anecdote that could have only happened via good reporting and interviewing.
The call came on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Edward Burns, the bishop of Juneau, Alaska, was on a FaceTime call with a young man weighing a decision to enter the priesthood. A 202 area code appeared on the screen. It was a Washington, D.C., number, and most likely a mistaken call.
The 59-year-old bishop was busy. Recruiting young men into a priestly vocation is a significant part of his job. So without hesitation, Burns pressed decline.
How could he have known that ever since former Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell left the city in August to lead a new Vatican department, a confidential search had begun to find a replacement? Now, after months of research, Pope Francis had made a decision.
Two hours after the Face-Time call, Burns noticed a voicemail from the 202 number. He listened.
“This is Archbishop Christophe Pierre,” a man said in a French accent.
Part of Burns’ career had been with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in northeast Washington, D.C., so no wonder he thought it was a wrong number.