[Editor’s note: Ties between Evangelicals and Catholics in America come in all shapes and sizes, with one of the most striking flowering in Orange County, California, and a friendship and partnership between Bishop Kevin Vann and famed Evangelical pastor Rick Warren. Recently, Pia de Solenni, a lay Catholic theologian and chancellor of the Orange County diocese, spoke to both men about that friendship. The interview appears here with permission of the diocese.]
De Solenni: How did the two of you meet and become such good friends?
Vann: Five years ago, on the day of my installation as Bishop of Orange, I met Pastor Rick when he attended my installation. Previously we had talked on the phone, when Rick called to welcome me to Orange County.
My previous ministry had been in Fort Worth, Texas, where Rick had attended seminary, so we had a common history with God moving each of us from Texas to Southern California. Soon after my installation, we were together again as guests on ‘The Orange Hour’ program hosted by Maria Hall. We talked before, during, and after the program, and then committed to pray for each other.
Warren: I was deeply moved by what Bishop Kevin spoke at his installation. I admired his integrity, humility, and generosity that he modeled in his first message, and I loved the fact that he is multi-lingual which is so valuable here in Southern California.
Since I moved to Orange County in 1980, I’ve known each of the previous Bishops of Orange, but Bishop Kevin and I became dear friends very quickly. Then when I heard that the Bishop had read a portion from one of Kay’s books (my wife) as an illustration in one of his homilies – well, that sealed our friendship! I knew he was a wise man! (laughter)
Vann: Yes, I remember the quote well! I believe, on the Church’s liturgical calendar, it was either the Third or Fourth Sunday of Advent, when the figure of Mary comes to the fore. Also, we had just finished the celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I found this reflection from Kay’s book on YouTube, I believe as I was working on my homily: ‘Mary didn’t wait until all was crystal clear to surrender herself to God. She didn’t insist that God’s will come with no suffering attached; she simply said, I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.’ I thought then, ‘Perfect…just what I was looking for!’
So, I included Kay’s quote by name in my homily for that Sunday!!
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