The Diocese of Des Moines
July 18, 2018
Written By: Kelly Mescher Collins

Diocese of Des Moines priest Father Enrique Garcia-Elizalde is a nominee for the 2018-2019 Lumen Christi Award.

The Lumen Christi Award (meaning Light of Christ) was created by Catholic Extension more than 40 years ago. The organization asks mission diocese to “nominate their best, brightest and most inspiring people” for the honor.

Father Enrique was ordained a priest in 2001 in Mexico and arrived in the U.S. in 2010 to serve the Hispanic population. He was incarnated into the diocese in 2014.

Father Enrique guides the diocese’s seminarians as a full-time teacher at Conception Seminary College, in Missouri, where some of them attend. He teaches Spanish and Hispanic culture classes.

He also serves as spiritual director to young adults, holds small faith group gatherings and facilitates Cursillo retreats and other apostolic movements. He serves about 800 families, including more than 3,000 Hispanics, and is always looking for ways where both parents and their children can grow together in their faith.

Bishop Richard Pates has high praise for Father Enrique.

“Father Enrique is charismatic and creative towards the youth and reaches them effectively,” Bishop Pates said. “He looks for opportunities to advise the youth to see the gift of their vocation, to know they are called first to holiness.”

Mayra Moriel de Bañuelos, coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Des Moines, said Father Enrique is deserving of the nomination.

“He develops his ministry with joy and devotion,” Moriel de Bañuelos said. “He is so good working with people all ages. He has a gift to connect with children, teenagers and he is very pastoral and thoughtful with adults too.

“He is a great support for the office of the Hispanic Ministry,” she added. “He helps us with the lay formation xlasses, retreats, Masses, confessions, talks to the community and family events like picnics and sport games.”

Father Enrique has also been accompanying the Diocese of Des Moines in the process of the V Encuentro. He was present in many of the Parish Encuentros, helped at the Diocesan Encuentro and attended as a delegate to the Regional Encuentro in Kansas City, KS. He is also one of the diocesan delegates that will attend the V National Encuentro in Texas September 20-23.         


June 21, 2018
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

The Diocese of Des Moines has reviewed the facts and law surrounding the educational grant from Polk County to the Education for the 21st Century Foundation. We agree completely with Polk County that the Community Development Grant was entirely legal and proper. The grant process was open and subject to scrutiny by legal experts. The County fully complied with Iowa law that prohibits the County from giving funds to an institution “under ecclesiastical or sectarian management or control.” See Iowa Code Section 331.901 (5). The County meticulously complied with that statue which, in light of the United States Supreme Court’s 2017 decision Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, is clearly unconstitutional.

Polk County has shared gaming revenue with a number of public and private non-profit institutions that have demonstrated beneficial charitable and public purposes. The Education for the 21st Century Foundation is just such an institution.

The Catholic Church did not manage or control the foundation that received the grant. The grant money was not used for religious purposes. It was used for purchasing learning technology that was provided to Christian and parochial schools. Catholic schools receive support for transportation or the purchase of text books that the state of Iowa provides to private schools. This is obviously in recognition of the fact that families choosing a religious education are taxpayers. Providing this form of support that does not directly advance religion is entirely consistent with the law. In fact, as the US Supreme Court has recognized, a law or policy that expressly discriminates against an otherwise eligible recipient and disqualifies them from a public benefit because of their religious character, is a clear violation of the United States Constitution.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines has concluded that there is nothing improper associated with the technology grant. To imply otherwise does a disservice to honest, hardworking public servants and belies a troubling hostility to religion.

June 20, 2018
Written By: Bishop Richard Pates

Recent events in the continuing saga of immigration enforcement call for immediate protest and insistence that human rights and the longstanding moral practices of our country be reinstituted.  We again emphasize the urgent necessity of comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.

In league with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I make my own elements of a statement he issued on June 13, on behalf of the USCCB.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence. Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors. We urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.


Additionally, I join Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB’s Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration’s zero tolerance policy.  Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma.  Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

Political legislative gridlock is creating situations which might be described as inhumane and contrary to the heart of our country.  Again, there is an urgent necessity of comprehensive immigration reform in the United States