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The Rt. Rev. Michael L. Vono Biography
The Rt. Rev. Michael L. Vono was elected the Ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande in April 2010 and consecrated on October 22, 2010, in the See City of Albuquerque, New Mexico. An energetic evangelist for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bishop Vono set about building on the ministry of reconciliation the Diocese began three years earlier following the resignation of the former bishop. The weight of the task was as large as the Diocese itself. The Diocese of the Rio Grande encompasses the state of New Mexico and the portion of Texas west of the Pecos River, known as the Big Bend Region. Bishop Vono was up to the challenge and visited each of the 58 congregations within the Diocese’s 154,000 square miles during his first twelve months as bishop. It became clear the Diocese needed a center.
By early in 2011 Bishop Vono negotiated the purchase of the Spiritual Renewal Center and entered into a remodeling program to create a center to house the diocesan offices and create a conference and retreat center. The Bosque Center was dedicated in October 2012 and has proven a major asset for the Diocese and its people. In keeping with his efforts to revitalize diocesan ministries, in 2013 Bishop Vono initiated a major renovation and repurposing of Camp Stoney to encompass its wider mission. Bishop’s Ridge Retreat and Conference Center embraced a new summer program that enlisted Deanery participation to reduce camper fees and gradually ensure that all children would be afforded the opportunity to attend camp. Renovations also opened the retreat house and the facility to year-round rentals.
In addition to the Bosque Center and Bishop’s Ridge, Bishop Vono has led the Diocese to expand missional efforts to include the Rio Grande Borderland Ministries, the Mission to the Homeless and Disinfranchised, Youth and Young Adults, and Urban Native Americans. In 2015 the Diocese and Bishop Vono partnered with the Episcopal Bishop Suffragan of Federal Ministries to sponsor military chaplains who wished to be sponsored by The Episcopal Church as Chaplains in the Armed Forces.
He was born in Providence, RI, the second of four children in a close-knit family. “I had a clear sense of vocation from an early age, and my sixteen years of seminary formation included Catholic, Protestant and Anglican theological training. I completed my doctoral degree in Congregational Studies in 1986.” In 2012 Bishop Vono was awarded a Doctor of Divinity by the Virginia Theological Seminary.
Bishop Vono’s ministerial life began as a Curate in an inner-city multicultural church of Christ Church, Leicester. “I lived with people in crisis, transition, conflict, and confusion. I learned how to be a shepherd, counselor, and friend, as my parishioners struggled to recognize God in their personal wildernesses. As its Vicar, the ‘bedroom community’ of Christ Church, taught me the value of living in a spiritually intimate community. I began to concentrate on congregational development, and studied at Hartford Theological Seminary. In my twelve years there I learned to appreciate the uniqueness of every relationship and love the complex diversities of the Body of Christ.”
Father Vono was elected to the Episcopacy after 18 years as Rector of St. Paul’s within the Walls, Rome, Italy. He describes St. Paul’s as a church of “diverse cultures and religious backgrounds ... a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, ecumenical and interfaith community.” The ministries included the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, a sizable Latin American community, service to the elderly poor of the city as well as displaced youth. “At the center of our mission and witness was the profound ministry of radical hospitality.”
“My spiritual and physical disciplines include praying and studying Scripture/theology each morning and taking physical exercise each day. I meet with my spiritual director monthly, and make a monastic retreat each year. I love community gatherings, theatre, music, travel and writing, and nothing invigorates me more than a challenge.”