Bishop Malooly announced a new diocesan office this week with the appointment of Father Glenn Evers to head the Office for Cultural Ministries for the Diocese of Wilmington.
Father Evers, who will remain as associate pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Hockessin, will oversee the existing diocesan offices for Hispanic Ministry, Ministry to Black Catholics, the Korean Catholic Community and the Native American Catholic Community.
The bishop also named Father Carlos Ochoa, associate pastor of St. John-Holy Angels Church in Newark, to become coordinator of the Hispanic Ministry office in October.
“What this office is going to do is help coordinate resources more effectively and, more importantly, it has the potential to grow into something more than it is,” said Msgr. Steven P. Hurley, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia.
Citing studies that report 36 percent of all Catholic parishes in the United States identify themselves as multicultural, Msgr. Hurley noted the growing recognition that demographics of the church in the U.S. is changing.
“We’ve been blessed here in Wilmington with vibrant ministries for Hispanic, black, Korean and Native American Catholics,” Msgr. Hurley said. We also have growing populations of West Africans, Indians and Vietnamese, he added.
“My hope is that the Cultural Ministries office is the first step in giving more prominence and emphasis to these ministries.
“It’s an opportunity to learn, to listen and to recognize our parishes are changing and that these different expressions of worship and spirituality can bring new life and vigor into the diocese,” said Msgr. Hurley.
Father Evers said his responsibilities at the new Cultural Ministries office reinforces the church’s mission that “Christ is here for everyone. It’s a very important part of the mission of our diocese and something I value in my own life.”
Father Evers, who has previously served the Hispanic community at St. Peter and Paul Parish in Easton, Md., speaks Spanish and said he’s always found “joy in knowing people who don’t have the customs I grew up with,” their food, culture and language.
The growing diversity of American Catholics is a reflection of the early church, Father Evers said, citing the story of Pentecost, when through the Gift of the Holy Spirit, people speaking different languages were able to understand the Apostles and the church grew into a church that’s universal.
Father Evers said he hopes to give the four diocesan coordinators of ethnic ministries — Father Paul Williams OFM, for Ministry for Black Catholics; Father Ochoa, who is succeeding Father Emerson Rodriguez, OFM, who has been transferred by his order; Father Tae-Guen Peter Kim of the Korean Catholic Community; and Sharon Ward, coordinator of Native American Ministry — greater attention on the diocesan level to help them succeed and “improve the work they’ve already been caring about for some time now.”
Father Evers has no set agenda for his new responsibilities, he said.
“For me, ministry always starts with learning before you start changing anything. I’m pretty enthusiastic about it. I’m going to approach the ministry and the job with an open heart and arms. That’s how the Lord approaches us.”