Warrenton parochial vicar named a bishop in Africa

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Pope Francis has appointed Father Théophile Naré, parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton for the past two months, as Bishop of Kaya in Burkina Faso in West Africa. The appointment was announced at the Vatican Dec. 7.

Father Naré succeeds Bishop Thomas Kaboré.

“Together with the priests, deacons, consecrated religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Arlington, I offer Bishop-elect Théophile Naré my sincere prayers and congratulations on his appointment," said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge in a Dec. 7 statement. "We know that his upcoming episcopal ministry will be a tremendous blessing to the people of the Diocese of Kaya. We also thank him for his generous service to the people of God in our Diocese. I pray that Our Lord will grant him abundant blessings in his new calling and sacred duty.”

Father Naré said he is amazed to see the trust that God and Pope Francis put in him with this appointment.

“I accepted the mission in consideration of one good principle taught me during my preparation for the priesthood — ‘Never ask, never refuse,’” he said. “Someone is not a bishop only for his diocese or his country. The fact that the Holy Father’s call found me here in the United States where I came to be a missionary priest reminds me of that truth.”

When Father Naré begins his assignment, he knows what he will face. He said there are challenges of evangelization, with only 14 percent of the population being Christian. Then there is the new evangelization.

“The church has only 100 years of existence in the country, but the need to update ecclesial practices is a vital necessity and, in any case, it is necessary to continue to deepen the conversion of mentalities,” he said. “Particularly sensitive, given the material poverty in which most people live, are social, pastoral, education and health … so many areas that the activity of the church cannot ignore or neglect without betraying the Gospel of Christ.”

Father James R. Gould, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church, said it was fitting for Father Naré to be named bishop on the feast of St. Ambrose.

“St. Ambrose is remembered for his eloquent talks and the defense of the faith, and Father Theo rises above the standards of what we often expect of priests,” he said.

Father Naré was born July 7, 1966, in Yargo in the Archdiocese of Koupéla in Burkina Faso. He was ordained a priest July 8, 1995. He served as parochial vicar of the Cathedral of Koupéla (1995-2000); studied in Rome, Jerusalem and Paris (2000-05); was parish administrator of the Cathedral of Koupéla (2005-06); a teacher of exegesis in the St. Jean Baptiste Major Seminary of Wayalghin (2006-11); and rector and lecturer of exegesis in the St. Pierre Theological Higher Seminary in Koumi, Bobo-Dioulasso (2011-18).

He obtained a licentiate in sacred scripture at the Biblicum in Rome and at the École Biblique of Jerusalem and earned a certificate in formation for educators of the clergy at the Institut de Formation pour Éducateurs du Clergé à Paris, IFEC.

“I will always remain in an emotional and effective communion with this church in Arlington, who generously welcomed me, with her first pastor, her priests and all her believers,” said Father Naré. “I remain, of course, particularly attached to the parochial community of St John the Evangelist in Warrenton, to all the parishioners who have shown themselves to me brothers and friends, and the pastor in the lead.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018