The Latin motto, Nisi Dominus Aedificaverit, is the first three words of Psalm 126:1-2 from the Latin Vulgate Bible and translates as “Unless the Lord builds.”
The verse, in its entirety, is “Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do its builders labor. Unless the Lord watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil. In vain is your earlier rising and your going later to rest, you who toil for the bread you eat while He pours gifts on His beloved while they slumber.” It is a reminder to us that God is ever near to help us and we cannot do what we need to do without Him.
The outer elements – the hat, cross and tassels – may vary in design but are standard features of all bishop’s coats of arms.
The interior shield is marriage of the Diocese of Tulsa’s coat of arms on the left side and my shield on the right.
The color palette of my shield was chosen to represent the Konderla family heritage from Germany, Poland and Ireland.
The star is what first announced the birth of our Savior. It also represents, for me, my love for my native state of Texas. I also find that looking up at the stars and the beauty of the universe draws me closer to the Creator of the universe.
The intertwined A and M joined with a cross is the symbol of what is called The Auspice Maria, or Under the Protection of Mary. My priesthood, and now my life as a bishop, I have placed under the care of Mary’s prayers and protection. It has a secondary meaning to me in that it connects me to my beloved Aggies, whose logo is the stylized letters ATM.
The blue line running vertically represents the rivers that have run through my life. I grew up in the Brazos River Valley. The Colorado River runs through my home, the Diocese of Austin. The Arkansas River is a prominent feature of my new diocese, the Diocese of Tulsa. Rivers throughout the world form lines of connection between peoples and, according to Psalm 46, it is a river that “gladdens the city of God, the dwelling of the most high.”