Moreno named diocesan Director of Evangelization, Catechesis and Family Life
By Michel Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Following a call to live his Catholic faith instilled early by his mother, Juan Carlos Moreno’s journey took a few twists and turns, but has eventually led him to ministry in north Texas. Moreno joined the Diocese of Dallas’ Ministries Office in March as the director of Evangelization, Catechesis and Family Life.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Moreno moved to Texas in 1992 at 14, growing up in Katy, a city just west of Houston. He attended the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in general business in 2002 before embarking on a career in information technology.
While he has always enjoyed working with technology, Moreno admits that he knew his heart lie elsewhere. He credits his mother for instilling that love of the Catholic faith in him and for inspiring him to pursue that passion.
“She actually managed for myself and my brother to go to World Youth Day in 1997 to meet St. John Paul II in Paris,” Moreno said. “That was a turning point for me to become a more committed Catholic and it started me to begin learning more about my faith, reading more theological books and catechesis, praying to God.”
Afterwards, Moreno returned to complete his degree at UTSA, moving back to Houston and taking a job at Memorial Hermann Hospital. The position came with what Moreno described as a “very generous” continuing education policy, which he planned to use. That’s when another woman stepped in to inspire him to learn more about his faith.
“Right around that time, Elizabeth, my girlfriend now wife, had invited me to be a catechist,” he explained. “If I was going to do this, I wanted to be the best catechist I could be. So I studied theology. I earned a masters in pastoral studies at University of St. Thomas in Houston.”
A call to serve
Still really not knowing that he would enter into ministry for the Church, Moreno said he was just being open to whatever God wanted him to do. He and his wife married, and as a couple they continued to serve in the catechetical ministry.
“We did a bunch of infant baptism preparation classes,” he said. “With many years of volunteering at the parish, I little by little slowly discerned that God perhaps wanted me to work professionally in ministry.”
Following that call to serve, Moreno took a job as a director of religious education at Corpus Christi Parish in Houston, where he served for a year before getting the opportunity to take a position with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Moreno served for 10 years as the archdiocese’s associate director of Sacramental and Elementary Catechesis. It was then that Moreno read Bishop Edward J. Burns’ pastoral letter, “The Journey Through Lent, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost – A Post-Pandemic Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Dallas.” When an opportunity to work in Dallas arose, Moreno jumped at it.
“The opportunity to work for Bishop Burns was exciting,” Moreno said. “The things that he wrote about racial healing, some people don’t even want to talk about. Here in Dallas, you have someone wanting to establish a task force to make sure those issues are addressed. His care for the immigrant community, even though Dallas is not a border diocese, by partnering with El Paso to help them out in any way possible is impressive.”
When Moreno heard about the job opportunity in Dallas, it sounded like a good place for him to be.
“You have someone in the Diocese of Dallas who is a visionary,” Moreno said. “You have someone who has a vision for moving forward from this pandemic and helping the people of God be closer to His kingdom.”
In his new post with the Diocese of Dallas, he sees his role as helping and enabling people in parishes to conduct formation for families through evangelization and catechesis
“Above everything else, the Church exists to evangelize,” Moreno said. “My drive is to help people evangelize, to share the Good News, to share their love of God with other people, to be witnesses to God’s love and the difference it makes in their lives.”
Moreno said he tells people that no matter what else they do, they need to do it with witness.
“We have to give that testament,” he said. “We are all here because of an encounter with God we had and I see our role as being a bridge – as a facilitator – for people in these programs, whether they be family enrichment, marriage enrichment, marriage preparation or catechetical programs, so that they can also have that encounter with Jesus Christ. We want to help them be embraced by his love as it changes lives.”
The best way to do that, Moreno said, is to emulate Jesus.
“There truly is no other way than following the master himself, Jesus Christ, and that is through a personal approach — through taking that first step, through accompaniment, through listening, and through celebrating our faith,” he said.
Of course, in today’s world, that approach also means having a digital presence. Heeding a call made by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and re-iterated by Pope Francis in 2014, Moreno said he looks to help the local Church keep a presence on the “digital continent.”
“Technology will always be one of my loves, and I’m always trying to find those ways to implement from other areas — such as technology —into catechesis,” he explained. “We need to have a voice and a presence in the digital continent and not just leave that to the secular world. As a Church, we must always encourage people to use all the tools available to spread God’s message.”