by Marc and Julie Anderson
SHREVEPORT, La. — He never thought he’d be a bishop.
But that’s exactly what Father Francis Ignatius Malone became when he was ordained and installed as the bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport on Jan. 28.
As a result of his episcopal ordination, Bishop Malone became only the third bishop since the diocese’s formation in 1986. He also became the first alumnus of the former Savior of the World Seminary in Kansas City, Kansas, to be named a bishop.
Savior was originally a minor (high school) seminary operated by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas from 1960 to 1987 until the seminary closed and the campus was converted into the current pastoral center and archdiocesan offices.
Even though his time in the archdiocese was brief, Bishop Malone recalls it with affection.
“I was there for one year,” said the new bishop. “I had finished high school in Arkansas where my uncle was a priest. There were a couple of priests in the Archdiocese of Kansas City that were in the seminary with my uncle. One of them was Father [Tom] Culhane, and he became the rector of the seminary.”
“I had finished high school, and my grades weren’t the best,” he continued. “It was already determined that I would be attending the University of Dallas at Irving, Texas, the next year, and Holy Trinity Seminary there. The University of Dallas is a very challenging institution.
“So, it was determined that I would probably benefit from a year of studies. And so, that’s how I got to Savior of the World.”
As he recalled his first impressions of Savior, Bishop Malone recalls being quite impressed.
“The building was brand-new,” he said. “The accommodations were very nice. There were four [boys] to a room, and the classrooms were nice.
“The education was also challenging, but it gave me an excellent foundation to be moving onto the University of Dallas the next year.”
As Savior of the World was a minor seminary for young men of high school age, Bishop Malone said some of his courses were typical high school classes like Latin, Spanish and government. However, there was one course he truly enjoyed — theology.
Taught by a nun, the course offered not only lectures, but also opportunities to visit parishes and schools, something he has done throughout 42 years of ministry.
“I remember once we went to a church in Leavenworth and got the experience of what their religious education program was like,” he said.
Even though his contact with his classmates has been limited due to his different vocational path, Bishop Malone still recalls them fondly.
Most of the men at the seminary were ordained as priests for the various dioceses of Kansas or Colorado.
“I was going considerably south,” he said. “So, I had very little contact with Savior once I left. But that doesn’t take away from the goodness and the camaraderie.
“One thing I did not have up until that time was the experience of living in community with people my age.
“Although the class was already established . . . [and] I was the new guy coming along, I was treated well. Again, the experience of praying the Liturgy of the Hours each day and having confessors there and having daily Mass — it was all very positive.”
Of the priests on the faculty, Bishop Malone said he will be forever grateful to them. In addition to the late Msgr. Culhane, the bishop mentioned Msgr. Michael Mullen, Msgr. Raymond Burger and Father Al Rockers.
“I am grateful to them, first of all, for their priesthood,” Bishop Malone said. “They were instrumental in getting me started. You have to start someplace, and they were a part of that initiation into seminary life.”
Moreover, Bishop Malone said, “they were faithful. They seemed to love what they were doing, and I can certainly say that, after 42 years of priesthood, I also love what I’m doing. I never thought that I would be a bishop of a diocese.
“I’m sure I’m the first graduate of Savior of the World to become a bishop, and you never anticipate that things are going to happen, but you cannot do it well if you’re not happy.
“You can’t do it well if you’re not prayerful,” he added, “and these priests were excellent examples of what someone would need to do to be a good priest.
“I’m grateful. I’ll always be grateful to them.”