The personal coat of arms of Bishop John Nevins is an endeavor to represent his own religious background and vocation, as well as his ideals and the themes of his ministry to God’s People.
The red and gold of the larger portion are the historic colors of Spain and indicate gratitude to those who first brought the faith to Florida, and the Bishop’s pastoral ministry to the Spanish-speaking peoples of today. The red cross in saltire is commonly known as the Cross of St. Patrick in heraldry and immediately connotes Irish ancestry. The Cross is “charged” or enhanced with two gold palm branches. One is taken from an arms of the Nevins family and honors John and Anne Nevins, the Bishop’s parents. The other palm branch is an adaptation from the palm tree that figures in the arms of the Archdiocese of Miami, and witnesses to his ministry as priest and Auxiliary Bishop there.
The upper section, or chief, issues a call to a strong, vibrant faith and spirituality with its two Celtic crosses in green on a silver or white background. Between these, on a red pale and in a place of honor, are two clasped hands in gold. One might say that all the rest of the shield is designed to raise one’s eyes to that point.
It symbolizes the chosen ideals and themes of Bishop Nevins’ ministry: welcome and reconciliation, mercy and compassion. It reminds us of the Gospel story of the father reaching out to welcome the prodigal son, of the great commandment to love one another, and of all that we intend by the greeting of peace in the Eucharist. This theme is perfectly summed-up in his motto: To Serve With Mercy.