Five Latino men to join permanent diaconate

Jesús Hernández Chávez is looking forward to serving his Area Catholic Community as one of five new permanent deacons being ordained for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

“I want to bear good fruit in everything I do for the common good of the faith community,” Jesús said. “To build the kingdom of God here on earth, through serving everyone.”

Diaconate ordination set for June 11
What: Ordination to the permanent diaconate
When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 11
Where: St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud

After five years of formation, Jesús, a member of St. Mary Parish in Melrose, and four other members of the diocese’s Latino community will be ordained by Bishop Donald Kettler June 11 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.

Jesús, along with classmates Jorge Carillo-Ambriz, Mario Mancilla, Carlos Pesqueda Silva and Lorenzo Sánchez Rodríguez, graduated from the Emmaus Institute in February, earning a certificate in pastoral ministry from the diocese.

Since February, the men in formation and their wives have gone through their ordination interviews, and the men have been recommended to Bishop Kettler for ordination, said Deacon Ernie Kociemba, director of the diaconate office of the diocese. They have completed their education in homiletics and are working on the covenants to serve in their Area Catholic Communities.

“The journey was long and arduous, but the candidates and their families persevered,” Deacon Ernie said. “When looking back, all would say it was the work of the Holy Spirit working through the people involved in the process to get this far.”

He said there are many people who helped to make this moment possible, including Bishop Kettler and the pastors of the various candidates. He also credits staff from the diocese and St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary for the candidates’ success, in particular Mayuli Bales, diocesan director of multicultural ministries, Deacon Lucio Hernández, assistant diaconate director, Kristi Bivens, associate director of lay leadership for the diocese, and Barbara Sutton and Father Efrain Rosario from St. John’s.

“I could not be any prouder seeing this group of men along with their families and communities begin a new chapter in their lives as ordained ministers,” Deason Ernie said.

Jesús Hernández Chávez

Jesús and his wife, Angelica, are members of St. Mary Parish in Melrose.

Jesús said the knowledge he gained about the Catholic faith through his years of formation helped him discern his vocation.

“Knowing about the Catholic faith helped me to realize that God was calling me to be a deacon and a servant,” Jesús said.

“Being a deacon means a lot to me because I will be able to serve the community in many ways as an ordained person,” he said. “I will be able to attend to many existing needs in the community and be a support for the priests of the diocese.”

Jesús will serve the One in Faith Catholic Community of Freeport, Greenwald, Meire Grove, Melrose, New Munich, Spring Hill and St. Rosa.

Mario Mancilla

Mario and his wife, Alejandra, are members of St. Leonard of Port Mauritius Parish in Pelican Rapids.

Mario started his journey to the permanent diaconate when the late Father Richard Walz invited him to a retreat.

“I agreed to go with my wife, and at the end of the retreat I felt a call from God to serve him,” Mario said. “When we came back from the retreat, we had a lot of plans and ideas to do in our community.”

After that, he saw a need in the parish and started becoming more active and doing more volunteering with retreats.

“I still felt that call,” he said. “I’ve seen different signs throughout the years of that call that God was asking me to answer. When the opportunity came to start attending classes in our diocese I agreed to start, letting God take me wherever he wanted me to go.”

Mario said he is thankful for the opportunity to serve Latino — and all — people in the diocese and views it as a great responsibility.

“I hope the Latino community sees the wonderful gift they will have available to them,” he said. They will now have six Latino deacons to walk with them and be there for them in their faith journey.”

Mario will serve the Pelican Valley Catholic Community of Elizabeth, Fergus Falls and Pelican Rapids.

Carlos Pesqueda Silva

Carlos and his wife, Margarita, are members of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Long Prairie.

“I have realized that my call to the diaconate goes beyond serving my parish,” Carlos said. “It is to serve my community with the gifts and talents that God has given me through the sacraments.”

As a permanent deacon, Carlos is most looking forward to bringing the Word of God to others, he said.

“I want to serve with love and joy,” he said. “I want to be able to bring the sacraments to those who do not have them, and above all always be willing to help.”

For him, it is a great achievement to be ordained to the diaconate.

“It is a joy to represent my Latino community,” he said. “Because we are all called to serve.”

Carlos will serve the Five Star Area Catholic Community of Browerville, Clarissa, Grey Eagle, Long Prairie and Swanville.

Lorenzo Sánchez Rodríguez

Lorenzo and his wife, Guadalupe, are members of Assumption Parish in Morris.

Lorenzo said his call to the diaconate happened gradually.

During the first years of formation, the idea of being a deacon was brought up, he said, but it wasn’t in his plans. As he continued his formation at the Emmaus Institute, the idea resurfaced and this time his listened, but thought of it only as a possibility.

“The voices again insisted and, besides, there were already more voices telling me the same thing,” Lorenzo said. “This time I answered with a question: ‘Who am I for God to choose me for a mission like this?’ The voices answered: ‘You are a man who has certain talents, and the Church needs you. You need to carry the good news of the resurrection and love of Christ Jesus.’”

He heard others talk about their calling, and it was always “something amazing,” an obvious sign from God.

“I expected to experience something similar or even hoped that Jesus himself would appear and tell me face to face,” he said.

At the beginning of this year, everything began to take shape, he said. “In our homiletics class, we were using the text of Luke 5:1-10 — the call of Simon the fisherman — to prepare a sermon. When reflecting on the reading, I felt my heart begin to beat very strongly.”

The same thing happened in his theological reflection class.

“My homiletics and theological reflection subjects were the ones that helped me clear up all those doubts that had been spinning in my head for years,” Lorenzo said. “Now I can just listen to Him. ‘Follow me,’ He said, and I obeyed and left everything and followed Him.”

Lorenzo looks forward to helping administer sacraments, proclaiming the Gospel and preaching homilies. He also hopes to improve his English to serve not only the Latino community, but also the Anglo community, and act as a bridge or connection between the two cultures, he said.

He will serve the MAAA Area Catholic Community of Browns Valley, Chokio, Morris and Wheaton.

Jorge Carrillo-Ambriz

Jorge and his wife, Lorena, are members of St. Mary Parish in Melrose.

Jorge felt his calling to be a deacon for the first time a few years ago when he was put in charge of preparing for a holy hour. Being responsible for the Blessed Sacrament meant a lot to him. Later, he felt the call again when he started formation classes, he said.

“I felt there was more I could do to serve my community,” Jorge said.

He wants to evangelize as Jesus did, bringing the love of God to all, sharing everything he has learned in formation and letting others know that Jesus helps all in everything they need.

“We need to have faith and recognize his love for us and that we are all children of God,” he said.

Being part of the class of Latino deacons is something special, Jorge said.

“For me it is something that I never thought about before. But God already knew what I was going to do with my life. It is being a part of a bigger plan.”

Jorge will serve the One in Faith Catholic Community of Freeport, Greenwald, Meire Grove, Melrose, New Munich, Spring Hill and St. Rosa.

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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