Since the announcement was made Sept. 21 that Bishop David P. Talley from Atlanta would be the coadjutor bishop for the Diocese of Alexandria, everyone seems to want to know so much more about him.

What’s he like?  Will he be coming to our parish? When can we meet him?

Even before the Nov. 7 Mass of Welcome, many people in the diocese already had the surprise opportunity to meet him at various events.

On Oct. 29, he visited Winnsboro for an informal BBQ fundraiser for the seminarians; celebrated the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Oct. 30; celebrated a Children’s Mass with the students at St. Frances Cabrini School on Oct. 31; and on All Souls Day, celebrated the noon Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Bunkie, followed by a blessing of the cemetery.

After the Nov. 7 Mass of Welcome, Bishop David Talley began his official duties as coadjutor bishop of the diocese.

So, until the day that you get to personally meet Bishop Talley, here’s a brief informal interview with the new bishop:

Question: Tell us briefly about your family -- mom, dad, sisters, brothers.
Bishop Talley: I’m the oldest of five (a brother and three sisters). My parents divorced, so I have another brother from my dad’s second marriage.

Question: You grew up in a devout Baptist family and then converted to Catholicism when you were 24 years old.  Do you see this as an advantage or a disadvantage?
Bishop Talley: My brother and his wife are devout disciples of the Lord, and they raised their two children in a Christ-centered family. He is a deacon in his Baptist community.

My middle sister was initiated into the Roman Catholic Church years after I was serving as a priest.  She is a committed member of her Catholic parish.

In the vocation I have been called to, as a successor of the Apostles, I live and work as a strong and committed Catholic.  Still, I hear the Lord’s will…that we seek unity in Him, as a  redeemed humanity.

Those of us who rejoice in the name CHRISTIAN know that we are anointed in Him and through his obedient love, we are called to sanctity and service….and to be one.

Question: You have served in many pastoral roles in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.  Which three ministries are your favorite (dearest to your heart) and why?
Bishop Talley: Three gifts in my 27 years as a cleric:

• Parish Communities. I have worked in parish communities (the Church is the people of God…clerics and laity). The parishes and missions of a diocese are where we seek to serve the Lord’ flock;

• People with Disabilities. I have been a chaplain to the community of persons living with disabilities…and abilities, and I have learned from them…to be available and to love every moment of life;

• The Presbyterate. I have served the priests of Atlanta’s presbyterate as their advocate…and have loved the brothers.

Question: When you first learned of your appointment, what went through your head? 
Bishop Talley: I prayed for Bishop Herzog and for myself…that we would find a way to shepherd the people of Alexandria, in simplicity and joy…and the holiness that is the gift of God’s grace.

Question: The Archdiocese of Atlanta is probably 4-5 times larger than the Diocese of Alexandria.  What is your first impression of Alexandria?
Bishop Talley: Atlanta has one million Catholics, 300 priests and 100 parishes and missions. Our Diocese of Alexandria is much, much smaller. However, this is but one perspective. Our diocese has such richness in the cultural heritage passed on to us. We are a small minority of the Christian population in the diocese (save the southern-most part of the diocese)…but we have so much to offer…so much given to us as Catholics….Word, Sacrament, Service. We are a Church…..and are called to be the light of the world.

Question: What will you miss the most about leaving your home in Georgia?
Bishop Talley: The whole thing is about surrendering to the will of the Lord; and Peter in our midst….Pope Francis…has asked me to become a brother and a shepherd to the people of Alexandria. And I am happy to say YES, with joy.

Question: What are you most looking forward to in your new position as coadjutor bishop?
Bishop Talley: To assist Bishop Herzog; to prepare myself to accept the responsibility of living/being the instrument of the Good Shepherd; to listen and learn from the priests and deacons and religious and lay faithful; to lead the diocese in a spiritual and cultural renewal……a call unto holiness…to live…happily, joyfully, as the Father desires us to live. To live Jesus Christ.

Question: Explain the meaning behind your motto:  “He will give you a new heart.”
Bishop Talley: Actually, the English translation from Ezekiel is I will give you a new heart (dabo vobis cor novum). This gift of God (this grace) is seen in the Sacred Heart of the Lord…and in the gift of the Spirit….living and burning in our hearts.

by Jeannie Petrus, Church Today Editor