“When I was a kid I spent a lot of time on the farm with my grandmother who was a very simple farm lady. Maybe it goes back to that. I learned from her and from others in my family that this is the way you look at the world, and that the work you do is not better or worse than anyone else.”
He added: “It’s hard to get an exalted opinion of yourself, working on a farm, when you are standing knee-deep in manure.”
Manz is currently chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers, as well as a member of the Diversity in the Church Committee and the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America.
In these capacities, he has traveled to different U.S. states with a significant Hispanic presence to speak with and minister to migrant workers. He has also traveled to countries in Latin America, including Panama, where he lived for six months.
Manz told Chicago Catholic in May that “there are many problems at the border, with people coming from Central America. The new administration has been open to finding improvements in solving these immigration problems, but I don’t think they are prepared. It is important to start over with new structures, especially to solve the case with minors.”
Before his ordination as an auxiliary bishop for Chicago in 1996, Manz was known to parishioners as “Fr. Juan.”
“The work as a priest has never been easy, but I feel very fortunate,” he said. “I have had many experiences; I have never been bored and I think it is because I like people. As a priest, I believe I have received more than I have given.”