When Bishop Malooly decided to bring together the roles of Liaison for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Groups, he didn’t need to look far for a priest with a diverse background.
Father Roger F. DiBuo, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Bear, added the liaison title to his list of responsibilities after the bishop appointed him to the role in December. He will help the bishop in relationships between the Diocese of Wilmington and other Christian and non-Christian religious congregations in the community.
The job was combined from duties held by Msgr. Joseph Rebman, ecumenical liaison, and Father Leonard Kempski, liaison for non-Christian religions. Father DiBuo remains in his role as pastor.
“We live in a time when religious freedom is sometimes under attack,” Bishop Malooly said. “This is a way of being as supportive as possible.”
The bishop noted the contributions of Msgr. Rebman and Father Kempski and said he believes Father DiBuo brings skills that will help build on their work.
“He’s always had a strong interest and I think he will help as we continue to come together,” the bishop said.
After college, Father DiBuo served as a Peace Corps volunteer and spent three years living and working in the Islamic country of Malaysia. Later, as a seminarian studying in Rome, he worked at a library that collected information regarding documents and dialogue between Jewish leaders and the Vatican.
“Both (roles) fit my personal journey quite well,” Father DiBuo said.
He’s grateful for his time among people of different faiths.
“It was an amazingly impressive experience,” he said. “I didn’t know where it would lead me.”
His time in Malaysia came before the crimes of Sept. 11, 2001, and Father DiBuo said his experience helped him articulate the faith and love of Islam after those incidents. He tried to help demonstrate that it was “a small fraction causing problems.”
“I love the cultural diversity of life,” Father DiBuo said. “Religion and culture create energy. Part of my ministry as a Catholic priest is to reach out.”
He said lack of diversity in some corners of the world does not hinder his desire to help foster dialog. He recognizes the struggle Muslims and others face in overcoming violent acts of some who claim they are committing crimes in the name of their religious beliefs.
“I do not live in fear or distrust in any way at all. I am very positive they will work through their own struggle in defining themselves, and Christians and Muslims will move forward together.”
“In this position I will be able to be present in a more tangible way than I have been to help represent the bishop and the diocese,” Father DiBuo said.
He says he looks forward to helping various communities speak among themselves and that the bishop wants to help encourage opportunities to try to get to know each other.
“I’m very happy the bishop wants to keep the dialog going and have me in a position to help him to do that.”