Bishop Kicanas talks of ‘presence’ as new NCEA chair

ARLINGTON, Va. (NCEA)  – The board of directors of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) has appointed Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, D.D., Ph.D., as chairman, succeeding Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., who stepped down from the position on Dec. 8.

Bishop Kicanas assumed his duties as chairman on Jan. 1.

“After a thorough, prayerful and thoughtful process, the board is very pleased to have found in Bishop Kicanas a wonderful new chair,” said  Angela Dinger, vice chair of the NCEA board. “Bishop Kicanas has an extensive background in education, having served as a religion teacher, counselor, principal and seminary rector, in addition to his extensive ministry as a bishop both on the local and national levels.”

NCEA’s support role

Bishop Kicanas said he was “honored and grateful” to the board “for the opportunity to lead this exceptional organization of dedicated people.”

“The NCEA provides wonderful formation, resources and professional development to Catholic schools, and I look forward to assisting and furthering that critical mission,” he said.

Bishop Kicanas was one of the keynote speakers at the 2017 Louisiana Priests’ Convention, and he reflected then on the important role that priests – and other church leaders – have when listening to others with open hearts.

“In the seminary one of my professors taught me that giving Communion should not become rote but challenged us to look into the eyes of each recipient, to be present to each person approaching the sacrament to see in them their hunger to receive Christ,” Bishop Kicanas told the Louisiana priests.

“One thing we need to learn, if we have not already, is that asking questions or giving advice is not what people seek. What they long for, need more than anything, is someone to be with them, to listen, to understand.”

Bishop Kicanas was installed as Bishop of Tucson on March 7, 2003, and became bishop emeritus on Nov. 29, 2017. He was appointed coadjutor bishop of Tucson on Oct. 30, 2001.

Before his assignment in Tucson, Bishop Kicanas was  rector of Mundelein Seminary in the Chicago Archdiocese from 1984-95. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Chicago on Jan. 24, 1995, and ordained a bishop on March 20, 1995.

Bishop Kicanas said Pope Francis is a role model for all church leaders who want to bring people to a real encounter with Christ.

“We have to better articulate what we believe in a convincing and conclusive way and restore trust that the church is a reliable place whose message helps people understand who they are, where they have come from and what is the best way to live their lives,” Bishop Kicanas said.

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