Five years a bishop — Q&A with Bishop Nevares

Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, displays an early five-year anniversary gift that bears his coat of arms. Each symbol honors his priestly ministry. His episcopal motto is "Serve the Lord with gladness." (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, displays an early five-year anniversary gift that bears his coat of arms. Each symbol honors his priestly ministry. His episcopal motto is “Serve the Lord with gladness.” (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

[dropcap type=”4″]O[/dropcap]n July 19, Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares ­celebrates his fifth anniversary serving in the Diocese of Phoenix. Bishop Nevares was ordained a priest for the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette July 18, 1981, and was incardinated into the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, before receiving his episcopal
ordination in 2010.

Bishop Nevares reflected on his time as a bishop and on his vocation in an interview with Michael Dixon, host of “The Bishop’s Hour,” which aired on July 13. The following is adapted from a transcript of that interview.

Michael Dixon: We’re celebrating your fifth anniversary here in the Diocese of Phoenix. How has that been?

Bishop Nevares: It has been such a wonderful blessing to be a bishop, and more, to be the auxiliary bishop here in the Diocese of Phoenix. Of all the different possibilities, Phoenix is a wonderful, wonderful diocese to be with.

Michael Dixon: People love you and you have developed wonderful relationships here all over the diocese. It’s a very varied diocese isn’t it?

Bishop Nevares: Yes, it’s very varied, and that’s what I think contributes to the blessings, because I’m so happy to be the liaison from Bishop Olmsted to the ethnic groups. We have like 30 different ethnic groups from all over the world here in the sunny Valley, and they’re all Catholic. So whenever they have their fiesta, or their saint’s day, or their gatherings, they invite me and I go and I celebrate Mass for them, and of course enjoy their beautiful dinners afterward. Just to see all of these different types of Catholic people here in the Valley makes my experience here as the auxiliary bishop so very, very rich.

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The Bishop’s Hour

Airing Mondays at 11a.m. and Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Immaculate Heart Radio, 1310 AM.

Shows are available anytime at phoenixcatholicmedia.org or on iTunes.

[/quote_box_left]Michael Dixon: I want to take you back before you were ordained a bishop and all the way back to when your vocation began to make itself known to you. How old were you then?

Bishop Nevares: Probably 4 or 5 years old. … I would be outside laying on the grass just looking up at the night sky and just looking at all the wonderful stars. … I was really just admiring the beautiful stars, and thinking, even as that young boy, “God, you must really be big, and I can do nothing better with my life than give it to you.”

Now I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but at 11 years old, a missionary priest came and talked to our catechism class on the missions in Madagascar, and I said, “That’s what I want to do — I want to be a missionary to Madagascar, and take the Word of God and help these people come to know God and love God in a very special way.

So I think the very beginning of my vocation was way back, but then it started to crystalize at around the age of 11.

Michael Dixon: You were a Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette. How did you find yourself moving in the direction of that order?

Bishop Nevares: When I was about 10, we moved from the east end of Houston to the Southeast end, and in that parish, Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette staffed the parish, and there I came to discover the beautiful apparition of Our Lady of La Salette, how she appeared weeping for the sin of the world. And those tears of our heavenly Mother just touched my heart so deeply that I just said, “I have to be a priest, and I have to be a missionary for Our Lady so as to dry her tears and console her most sorrowful heart.”

Michael Dixon: Had you any indication ahead of time that you were going to be named an auxiliary bishop?

Bishop Nevares: It was a total surprise.

Michael Dixon: What was that like? Who made the call — the nuncio?

Bishop Nevares: The nuncio, Archbishop Sambi. He calls on the 27th of April at 5:30 in the evening, which was very unusual — usually the calls come in the morning. So we were just finishing Evening Prayer, and one of the seminarians — I was [a formator] at the Josephinum — comes running into the chapel. “Fr. Ed, Fr. Ed, the nuncio is on the phone.” And I say, “The nuncio? What did I do?”

So I go to the phone, I sit down and I answer the phone and he says, “Fr. Nevares?” I said “Yes.” He says, “This is Archbishop Sambi, the papal nuncio.” I said, “Oh?” He says, “Are you sitting down?” I said, “Yes.” He says, “I have great news!” I said, “Oh?” He says, “The Holy Father appoints you auxiliary bishop…” and like that, a lightning bolt right through my head, “Please, Jesus, not Alaska,” and he said “Phoenix!” And my heart and my spirit rejoiced, but you know, there were no words that came out because I was so dumbfounded at what I was hearing — it was such a shock. I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t say a word. After 10 or 15 seconds, the nuncio says, “Are you there?” and I said, “Uh-huh, uh-huh.” And he says, “Well, do you accept?” and I said, “Ummm, ummm, uh-huh, uh-huh.” I mean, real “intelligent” responses.

Michael Dixon:: But how overwhelming that had to be.

Bishop Nevares: Oh, very overwhelming, because never in my entire life did I ever imagine that I’d be a bishop. Never.

Michael Dixon: You’re all over the place and your days are really packed. Is it something you truly love?

Bishop Nevares: Well, I guess I truly love being a bishop, and more, because I’m here with Bishop [Thomas J.] Olmsted.Bishop Olmsted is a wonderful mentor and brother and he’s been so very kind and welcoming and supportive of me in everything, and so very patient with me. I’m very blessed being here with Bishop Olmsted.

Also, I’m very blessed living with Bishop [Thomas J.] O’Brien. So for the last couple of years, I’ve been able to live with Bishop O’Brien, and we’ve become pals. He knows the whole history of the diocese, he knows so many people and he knows so many of the priests. Just to listen to his stories, especially about when the Holy Father John Paul II came — he has lots of tapes and pictures and stories — and when Mother Teresa came, again, he has all these stories. I mean he’s a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the history of the diocese.

So every so often he makes me pancakes for breakfast, and every so often I turn around and I make him French toast, so we get along just fine.

Michael Dixon: It’s wonderful to have you in the diocese, and I really want to thank you because there are people out there who need to hear that kind of a vocation story and that kind of willingness to go where God leads you and then be surprised at all the things that happened.

Bishop Nevares: God picks the least in order to do His most wonderful work. In this way there’s no boasting that can happen in the Lord’s vineyard. So sometimes young people look at a priest and say, “Oh, he must be an angel.” No, we’re no angels — angels are only in heaven. We’re men doing the very best we can to serve God and to serve His holy people and to fall in love with God and with the people. If you really hear the call of the Lord, be generous because it’s a wonderful life. After 34 years as a priest, I can really and honestly say I have no regrets.