By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Challenging members of the local Catholic Church to follow their call to be missionary disciples, Bishop Edward J. Burns said first it was important for the faithful to truly know who they are.
“Whether we are the bishop, the pastor, the parochial vicar, the deacon…the Eucharistic minister, the catechist, the Catholic school teacher…the janitor, the receptionist…who are we? We are disciples of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Burns on Oct. 20 as he delivered the keynote address at the 11th annual Dallas Ministry Conference at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. “It’s important for us to know that he has called us to do the wonderful work of the church.”
Bishop Burns drew laughter and applause with his stories of making the move from the Diocese of Juneau after being announced as the eighth bishop of Dallas on Dec. 13, 2016.
Through the humor, though, he also reinforced his vision and goals for Catholics in north Texas. The bishop recalled that on the night of his announcement, he celebrated Eucharistic adoration at St. Rita Catholic Church.
“During that Eucharistic adoration, I said in a brief reflection that it’s not about me. It’s not about one person, but I do recognize the role and responsibility of being shepherd,” Bishop Burns said. “The goal is to shepherd the people of God and to bring people to the Lord.”
Bishop Burns said that goal lies at the “very heart of what we are being called to do” as ministers.
“We share in the work of the church, and we share in the work of our vocations and ministries. All of us are called by God to do that,” he said. “Our goal is to bring people to Jesus Christ and to bring Christ to the people. It is important that we do that as the church.”
Bishop Burns said that in the nine months since being installed as its bishop he has recognized many things about the Diocese of Dallas – especially the pride local Catholics have in their faith.
“I recognize how the people here are so proud to be Catholic. I recognize there is a joy that they have in their faith,” he said. “When I see that, you can only imagine as the shepherd of this diocese, my goal and desire is to keep that relationship with Jesus Christ strong, alive and fortified by it.”
Bishop Burns said the many ministries and organizations could be assured that the diocese will support them in their efforts to do the Lord’s work.
“It is important that all our ministries be filled with joy, with love and with passion,” he said. “The Lord will continue to bless us, bless our ministries, bless all the work we do, bless the people that we serve and to do it recognizing that we are expressing the Word of the Gospel. It is who we are and it is important for us to know who we are.”
The speech resonated with those in attendance, including Karmina Luna, who said the bishop’s words inspired her.
“Because of the work that I do as a catechist, it is important that first of all I am filled with the knowledge and am inspired to do this job that we are called to do within our parish,” said, Luna, a catechist at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church, who was making her first trip to a Dallas Ministry Conference. “I was told by friends who had come before that it was truly a blessing because there is a lot of information and resources you can find that will help you. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity this year.”
Deborah Kaluza agreed, adding that she found the opportunity for fellowship also appealing.
“I think it is great when we can all get together as a community and reinforce our values and understand where we are going,” said Kaluza, a parishioner who works with the special needs ministry at St. Ann Catholic Church in Coppell. “We get to hear the bishop speak and all get on the same path as a diocese.
“We always learn something new and it just refreshes my soul to be here,” Kaluza said.