No easy answers in priest’s death
The events of the Rev. Joe Moreno’s tragic end are a source of great sadness to all who knew him. But also sad are the unfounded accusations that have surfaced. I would like to comment.
A priest was said to observe that Father Joe “served others but was not served.” Father Joe had a wide circle of clergy, laity and family who surrounded and supported him in friendship. The diocese for many years pretty much allowed him to formulate his own ministry. Who was not serving him?
It was alleged that he had no new assignment when in reality his desired ministry was most agreeable to the diocese and several positions were ready to be discussed. There was an allegation that he “had nowhere to go” when he was offered a very suitable rectory residence with one of his closest priest friends. The location would have allowed him to easily carry on his many ministries.
It was suggested that he had reduced funds, as if someone in authority were responsible for this. Father Joe, like all priests, received an adequate though not excessive salary. Several parishes, such as mine, assisted him with Mass stipends for which he was always most grateful. If there were financial difficulties, the blame cannot be laid on another’s doorstep.
Certainly there was no “dead end” facing him but new horizons. When a man is ordained a priest, the bishop takes the man’s hands and asks if he will be obedient to “me and my successors.” Father Joe, like all priests, had to take his response and commitment seriously.
There was no one like Father Joe in his character and loving outreach. He is greatly missed. When a tragedy like this occurs, people want a nice, simple explanation. This is rarely available. But to formulate unwarranted explanations and accusations that have no basis in fact do not honor the memory of this outstanding priest.
The Rev. Paul Nogaro
Pastor, St. Stephen Church