Longtime Lufkin priest gets higher calling

Father Eduardo Nevares
Father Eduardo Nevares
Colleen Keuntze-Cockburn.
Colleen Keuntze-Cockburn.
Sister Mary Veronica
Sister Mary Veronica

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - East Texas Catholics are saying a proud farewell to one of their own.

Father Eduardo Nevares spent many years in Lufkin and East Texas growing as a priest and leader in the Catholic community.

When the papal office calls, you answer. Even for a priest that doesn't happen every day.

"I was overwhelmed. I was speechless," said Bishop-elect Eduardo Nevares.

A few months ago, that's what happened. Nevares was sharing dinner with fellow priests and seminaries.

"A seminary comes, taps me on the shoulder, 'Father Ed, Father Ed, the anuzio, the anuzio!" said Nevares.

Calling from Italy was the ambassador of the pope to the U.S. What he had to say couldn't have been less expected.

"The holy father has named you auxiliary bishop of Phoenix. Wow," said Navares.

Sister Mary Veronica was one of the first people he told the news. She's been a staple at the Lufkin Monastery for Cloistured Nuns since 1946. She met Nevares when he was in junior seminary as a teen.

"I kind of watched him grow up," said Veronica.

She says she saw something special in him at an early age.

"He really believes in prayer so he really felt we were supporting him all along the way through the priesthood with our prayer," said Veronica.

Many of the nuns at the Lufkin Monastery consider father Nevares a spiritual son of sorts. So they feel like proud mamas as they watch him become Bishop Nevares.

"You have the priest, the bishop and the pope. That's the highest you can get," said Veronica.

Nevares spent 17 years of his career at Lufkin St. Patrick Catholic Church. The first stint back in 1981.

"He just had this love and joy in him. He drew people to him," said Colleen Keuntze-Cockburn.

It's those qualities some believe will serve him well as a bishop in Phoenix. Nevares says he will bring a big part of East Texas.

"I'm going to continue to depend on these people and the nuns at the monastery for their continued prayer and support," said Nevares.

As he leaves East Texas prayers will be with him. As Nevares will be ordained as bishop in Phoenix on July 19.

Nevares hopes his post in Phoenix will help with the immigration problems. He says he's bilingual and Hispanic and hopes to build a bridge between the cultures there.

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