Bishop-elect Eduardo Alanis Nevares to serve as auxiliary
By J.D. Long-García | May 11, 2010 | The Catholic Sun
Pope Benedict XVI, recognizing local pastoral needs, has appointed the first-ever auxiliary bishop to the Phoenix Diocese.
The Holy See announced the appointment of Fr. Eduardo Alanis Nevares, vice rector of the College of Liberal Arts at the Pontifical College Josephinum, earlier today.
Bishop-elect Nevares, scheduled to be consecrated to the episcopacy July 19 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, will be the first Hispanic bishop of the diocese.
“It is significant that he comes to us during the Year for Priests,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said, “since he has such a wide and rich experience in promoting vocations to the priesthood, in forming men for priestly ministry in the seminary, and in building up the unity and fraternity of priests.”
Bishop-elect Nevares, he noted, also has experience in diaconal formation and has served as director of charismatic groups in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, where he is a priest.
“Bishop-elect Nevares comes from a wonderful Mexican-American family, with whom he maintains close bonds of love,” Bishop Olmsted said. “I am deeply grateful to them for the gift of their son to the Church. It is from them undoubtedly that he inherited his lively faith and his spontaneous spirit of joy.”
Bishop-elect Nevares earned a bachelor’s in philosophy and a Master of Divinity degree before being ordained a priest in 1981 for the religious community of the Missionaries of Our Lady of LaSalette. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Tyler in 2007.
“Serve the Lord with gladness” will be the bishop-elect’s episcopal motto. Bishop-elect Nevares taught Spanish to seminarians at the Josephinum.
“With just one phone call, your life changes,” Bishop-elect Nevares said. “In the seminary, I’m surrounded by all sorts of doctors of theology. I never expected to be named a bishop.”
While Bishop-elect Nevares is Hispanic and grew up speaking both English and Spanish, Bishop Olmsted stressed that he will be “a bishop for everyone.”
“I’m the baby of five,” Bishop-elect Nevares said. “My parents would speak to us in Spanish. But among us kids, we’d always speak English.”
Bishop-elect Nevares’ siblings were all born in Mexico. His parents, Andres and Beatriz, moved to the United States to provide for their growing family. On the journey to Chicago, Beatriz suffered complications in her pregnancy. So she stayed in San Antonio until Eduardo was born.
His mother’s love for the Eucharist instilled in Bishop-elect Nevares the desire to be a priest, he said. He would attend daily Mass with her while his older siblings would be at school.
“It’s a great day for the diocese," said Ignacio Rodriguez, associate director of the Office of Ethnic Ministries. "It shows the wisdom of Pope Benedict in terms of the large Hispanic community in Phoenix — much like the appointment in the Galveston-Houston Diocese. It’s clear that Hispanics in the United States are on the pope’s mind.”
The appointment comes during a difficult time for the immigrant community, Rodriguez said, noting the recent the signing of SB 1070, which criminalizes being in the United States for undocumented immigrants in Arizona.
“It’ll be a opportunity for [Nevares] to engage more closely with the Hispanic community," he said. "He’ll be in solidarity with them and let them know that the diocese is in solidarity with them.”
Carmen Portela, of the Office of Family Catechesis, called the appointment "providential" in light of the recent legislation.
“A lot of people have been praying and this is God’s response," she said. “He has immigrant parents. He’s lived and can understand what it’s like for a family of immigrants — the sacrifice and the suffering. He’ll know that the majority are not criminals or drug dealers. He will be able to embrace the Hispanic community as Bishop Olmsted already has.”
Armando Contreras, president and CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said it was a "historical time for the Diocese of Phoenix."
"It's timely that we have a Hispanic auxiliary bishop come to Phoenix during a time when our people are afraid," he said. "They're looking for hope and bringing an additional leader to enhance what's already been done by Bishop Olmsted will bring that hope."
At 14, Bishop-elect Nevares joined the high school seminary in Jefferson City, Miss. The school closed, so he was transferred to St. Henry Preparatory Seminary in Belleville, Ill. He eventually graduated with his bachelor’s in philosophy from St. Thomas in Houston in 1976.
In 1981, he completed his studies for his Master of Divinity at St. Kenrick Archdiocesan Seminary in St. Louis. Later that year, he was ordained a priest.
Bishop-elect Nevares served at several Texas parishes, becoming the pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Lufkin, Texas in 1999. He headed up the first-ever Spanish-language program for the permanent diaconate in the Tyler Diocese. After five years of formation, 26 men were ordained permanent deacons in 1999.
In 2002, Bishop-elect Nevares served as the co-director of vocations in the Tyler Diocese and helped with English- and Spanish-language diaconal formation. He also served as director of charismatic groups within the Texas diocese.
Bishop-elect Nevares, working with the vice-chancellor of the diocese, designed a six-week Spanish class for permanent deacons.
The suppressed Diocese of Natchez, Mississippi will be Bishop-elect Nevares’ titular diocese.