Father Austin Gilstrap, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville, made his Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity as the Episcopal Vicar for Education and Formation for the Diocese of Nashville during a special Mass Thursday, Nov. 10, in Sagrado Corazon Chapel at the Catholic Pastoral Center.
After making his profession of faith, Father Gilstrap placed his hand on the Bible and made his oath.
“I, the Very Reverend Austin R. Gilstrap, in assuming the office of Episcopal Vicar, promise that in my words and in my actions, I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church. With great care and fidelity, I shall carry out the duties incumbent on me toward the Church, both universal and particular, in which, according to the provisions of the law, I have been called to exercise my service,” Father Gilstrap proclaimed. “In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it.
“I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church, and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law,” he continued. “With Christian obedience I shall follow what the bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish. I shall also faithfully assist the diocesan bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church. So help me God, and God’s holy Gospels on which I place my hand.”
As an episcopal vicar for the diocese, Father Gilstrap said his job is to work with the other vicars to assist Bishop J. Mark Spalding in doing his service for the diocese.
“My role is to be a principle collaborator with Bishop J. Mark Spalding on all things related to education and formation,” he explained. “The bishop needs collaborators, and, ultimately, that’s what we do.
“There is a need in our diocese to be unified in our approach to education and formation. In a sense, the bishop is the principle of unity,” said Father Gilstrap. “I believe I can help him be that principle of unity in order to support all of the different ministers, both clerical and laity, across the diocese who are trying to help all of us to be able to know and love our Lord even better as they teach and form the people of God.”
Bishop Spalding offered words of gratitude to Father Gilstrap at the conclusion of Mass.
“Father, I thank you for your yes,” he said. “It’s no minor thing to give an example in the Church, in the priesthood, as pastor, and now vicar.”
The other vicars of the Diocese of Nashville include Father John Hammond, judicial vicar and vicar general; Father Dexter Brewer, adjutant judicial vicar and vicar general; and Father Patrick Kibby, episcopal vicar for priests.