Meaning of new El Paso bishop's Dallas coat of arms

EL PASO, Texas - Bishop Mark J. Seitz has been named the new bishop for the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. Here he talks about his coat of arms he had while he was an auxiliary bishop in Dallas:

When a priest is named to the office of bishop he is given a number of tasks that have the value of inviting him to reflect upon his identity and his goals. He has to choose a motto and to develop a shield or coat of arms.

I have chosen the motto, "Paratum cor meum", "My heart is ready". The Coat of Arms must be done by a rare person with artistic ability and a knowledge of heraldry. Mine was created by a permanent deacon, Deacon Paul Sullivan, from Rhode Island, who designs these shields for most of the bishops of the United States.

There is more here than I am even capable of explaining, but I would like to give you a little summary of the basic symbols on the crest.

1. Beginning at the upper left, the red rose is the "Rose for Life". I wanted some symbol of my commitment to the Gospel of Life, which is really an expression of my concern that the dignity of human life be respected at all of its stages from conception to natural death. Without this fundamental respect, which especially extends to the most vulnerable, no society can be a good or a healthy society.

2. The anchor is the "anchor of hope", which was a symbol of Roger Williams, my ancestor, and which is found on the flag of Rhode Island. Roger Williams was the Baptist minister who founded Rhode Island on principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. I hope also to be effective in working with people of other faiths and to be a contributor to the good of our nation.

There is a beautiful line in Hebrews referring to this anchor,

"...we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." (Heb. 6:18b-20)

3. The trefoil (shamrock) speaks to my Irish heritage, to the importance of teaching the Faith and, of course, harkens back to St. Patrick, one of our Faith's most effective missionaries.

4. The blue and white diamond pattern is a sign of my Bavarian heritage.

5. The winged lion is the symbol for St. Mark the Evangelist. St. Mark is, of course, my patron. I hope to imitate him in his service of the Apostles Peter and Paul and in his ability to effectively translate the Faith to those who needed to hear the message of salvation. The lion also happens to be a symbol of Bavaria.

Please keep me in your prayers that my life may honorably reflect these signs.

Source: "InSeitz" column of the weekly bulletin of All Saints Catholic Church, April 25, 2010

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