Today's feast honors the memory of an Augustinian friar who labored for many years in the Philippines and in Colombia, South America, as a religious, a priest and later as bishop. During the latter part of his life he suffered many trials due to civil unrest, the persecution of the Church and the affliction of cancer. Through all of these difficulties he remained a good shepherd to his people and a patient, faithful disciple of the Lord.
Ezekiel was born in Alfaro, Spain, on April 9, 1848. He joined the Recollect Congregation of the Order of Saint Augustine in Monteagudo (Navarra) in 1864, and professed vows on September 22, 1865. He was sent to the Philippines where was ordained in 1871 and where he labored for 15 years. He then returned to Spain to serve as prior in Monteagudo for three years, after which he gave all of his energy to various forms of ministry in Colombia, South America, until shortly before his death. He was a leader in the restoration of the Recollect Province of La Candelaria in Colombia, Vicar Apostolic of Casanare, and in 1899 became bishop of Pasto. His life as bishop was not easy due to the horrors of a cruel civil war, a period of rising anticlericalism, and persecution of the Church. Nevertheless, through his simple spirit of openness and rigorous defense of the rights of the Church, he showed himself a faithful pastor whose concern was the well-being of the Church entrusted to his care. Struck by cancer he returned to Spain at the insistence of his priests in order to receive treatment, and died there at Monteagudo on August 19, 1906 at the age of 58. He was beatified in 1975 and canonized in the Dominican Republic by John Paul II in 1992 at the close of the 5th Century Celebration of the Evangelization of Latin America. Throughout his life and still at the time of his death, the Recollects were members of the Order with profession made to the Prior General.
"Saint Ezekiel Moreno, by his life and evangelizing work, is a model for pastors, especially those of Latin America, who, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit wish to respond with new zeal, new means and a new expression to the great challenges which confront the Church of Latin America" (John Paul II).