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A Godfather Becomes Bishop: My Thoughts on Bishop-Elect Konderla

No one has taught me more about the importance of prayer, laughter and joy than Fr. Bishop-Elect David Konderla. Sorry, that’s going to take some getting used to.

Friday, May 13, he was named as the Bishop-Elect of the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I think my first words when Scott woke me at 6am were, “Nooooooo!” Followed shortly by, “Will he make his own crozier?” Answer: yes.

The things you’ll read about Fr. David will share what a great homilist he is (it’s all true), the great skills he has in the wood shop (yes, he’s crafted two, soon-to-be three, croziers), his love of Aggies (whoop) and his joy in being a priest (also true). But there’s an image I carry of Fr. David, and I will for all my living days.

Our preemie was just a few months old, back in the hospital and it was our roughest stay post-NICU. He was hooked up to so many tubes and wires I lost count. And in walked Fr. David. He had been at the family ranch and was dressed in his outdoor clothes. It was the first, and only, time I ever saw him without his collar. His normally jovial, witty, matter-of-fact self headed straight toward Luke’s hospital bed and we began to pray.

For me, he’s always been a straight shooter. And a hilariously funny one at that. “Pray like a mom, not like a nun,” he told me in the confessional, as I lamented about my lack of a prayer life. I was praying for the life I did not have. He helped me the love one God gave me.

No visit to College Station has ever been complete without a stop by St. Mary’s to give him a hug, high five and a thumbs up.

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My husband, Scott, has worked with him for 13 years. First, as a pastor, then Vocations Director (where they cracked all the Aggie jokes during staff meetings), to campus minister at our beloved Aggieland. Tulsa, I hope you realize he’s a missionary for more one cause. You know those Aggie Catholics.

He’s laughed with us, held our hands as we wept for our preemie, dined at our dining room table, joked with our kids and loved our family for so many years. It’s going to be hard to let him go and I know we aren’t the only ones. He is the second of 12 kids!

When we asked him to be our oldest daughter’s Godfather, we prayed – hard – that he would say yes. Because let’s be honest. When you say yes to being a Godparent to the Whitaker kids, it’s a full-time prayer job. We also permanently rope you into the family. Amazingly, he did not run away.

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Two years ago, we snapped this photo at Bishop Mike Sis’ ordination and now we’re eagerly awaiting his. Isn’t the Holy Spirit awesome?

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It’s true, I am heartbroken for Aggieland, especially the permanent parishioners at St. Mary’s who have to wish another Aggie priest a fond farewell. But, as his very wise (and former Catholic school classmate) predecessor is famous for saying, I know he will most definitely “bloom where’s he’s planted.” It’s what great priests do. The people of Tulsa will surely adore him as much as thousands of Central Texas Catholics do. Y’all darn well better take care of him.

Oh, and Rome? If y’all could start picking bishops from a diocese other than Austin, that would be fantastic.

Fr. David, you’ll always have a spot at our dining room table. But, more importantly, you have a permanent spot in our family prayers. We love you and can’t wait to hug your neck on June 29!

9 Comments

  1. Jill VanTrease on May 15, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Kathryn are you coming to Tulsa for the ordination?!!! I would love to meet you – or even provide housing!!! (That is probably creepy, but there you go!)

  2. Elizabeth on May 15, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    It’s amazing how many lives he’s impacted- in his calm, wise, Fr. David-like way. IT’s like an emotional rollercoaster. Seriously. One minute I want to burst into tears and the next I’m overcome with joy.

    • Kathryn on May 18, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      Yep x 1-million.

  3. Kayley on May 15, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I’m a reader of a year of your lovely blog and a parishioner here in the diocese of Tulsa. Let me just say, we are THRILLED about this appointment and will welcome him with wide open arms. We’ll take good care of him, that’s for sure.

    • Kathryn on May 18, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      As you should be. He is a rock star!

  4. Kimberly on May 16, 2016 at 9:40 am

    My reaction was the same as yours. First, “What, noo?!” then “Ahh, BISHOP!” What an amazing man of God, who truly had an impact on my Husband and I while we were in Aggieland. He’s going to do amazing things in Tulsa, but will definitely be missed.

    I attended a wedding on the May 7th at St Mary’s, and (then) Fr. David presided. Now that I think back to his homily, it was very reminiscent, calling the congregation (many of us former students) his grandchildren. What an amazing steward of God! Now for the wait to see who replaces him.

    • Kathryn on May 18, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      Big shoes, but I know we have some great priests. Exciting time!!

  5. Melinda Nyikos on May 17, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you for letting us know how special our new Bishop will be. We have been praying to get the perfect Bishop and it sounds like God has heard our prayers. We are sad to be letting our Bishop Edward Slattery go (to retirement) and have been spoiled with such a wonderful Bishop all these years. Have a Blessed day and come to Tulsa someday, it’s a wonderful city.

    • Kathryn on May 18, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      I’m coming for the ordination Melinda. Can’t wait!

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