TCU transition: Catching up with new Catholic chaplain, James Wilcox

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The Rev. James Wilcox has officially replaced the Rev. Charles Calabrese as the TCU Catholic chaplain, and he says he has big plans for the Catholic Community.

Wilcox is a DFW native. He grew up in Dallas and attended UT Dallas as an undergraduate student. He was ordained as a priest in 2013 and has been serving as the director of Vocations for the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Wilcox took time to sit down with IMAGE Magazine to discuss his transition to TCU and his plans for the Catholic Community.

Q: How did you end up at TCU?

A: “This is really one of the beautiful pieces about being a priest. The promise of obedience that we take means somebody has to tell you what to do. When the Bishop told me he would like me to come here, it was really exciting. So yeah, it’s an assignment, but an assignment that I accept whole-heartedly. I was really excited about it and I’m still really excited about it. The future is going to be great.”

Q: Was it easy making a transition to TCU from Dallas?

A: “Yes and no. I told people that if they had told me to be in charge of a parish, I understand what that looks like and what it means. I have less understanding of what being in charge of a campus means, though. I immediately looked for a campus ministry conference, and I have been talking to people in campus ministry and the students, who are great. I do understand what it means to grow in love with Jesus Christ, though, which is the basis of parish life and campus ministry.”

Q: Did you meet ‘Father Charlie’ during the transition?

A: “Oh yeah. He was great in the transition. He really was. He sort of laid everything out for me and was really helpful. In the first couple of weeks, I had a million questions, and he was ready to answer.”

Q: What are your plans for the Catholic Community?

A: “My first few weeks here have been learning what has been established in the last 30 years under Father Charlie, and recognizing what is the good that’s in that. Looking forward, I think one of the most important pieces is having a Newman Center. Newman Centers are Catholic centers throughout the U.S. on college campuses. It’s a pretty common thing to have a Newman Center on campus. That has been our first big step. We’re looking at having a space by the end of the semester.”

Q: What is your involvement with students outside of Mass?

A: “We have various activities going on, so I’d like to help be there for that. A lot of the time, students will just want to meet with me one-on-one and hang out. Sometimes, I’ll sit here or outside and write my homily. To be available to students is what is important to me. I want to be a sign of Jesus Christ and to be available to students who just want to chat or have a deeper conversation.”

Q: Are you solely working for TCU or are you still working for the greater Fort Worth area?

A: “Yeah, I’m also the Vocations Director for the Diocese of Fort Worth, which is kind of like the recruiter for priests. This, along with being at TCU, are really two assignments that I know well. These both meld together because it is about forming young people and helping them to see what is God’s will in their life, and helping them along the path to align their will to God’s.”

Q: What are you looking forward to with your time at TCU?

A: “The bowl game? But, really, I’m looking forward to the Newman Center because I know it’s going to be great for the students. I’m looking forward to greeting more students at Mass and helping students in their lives.”

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