August 5, 2005

Guadalajara deacons minister
in the archdiocese, foster vocations

By Sean Gallagher

From late June until Aug. 8, three ­deacons from the Archdiocese of Guadalajara in Mexico have been ministering to their compatriots who, for economic reasons, have come to live in and around Indianapolis.

They have rejoiced in the blessings of Hispanic Catholics in the archdiocese, but also witnessed the many challenges facing this growing segment of the faithful in central and southern Indiana.

Through it all, they have tried to plant seeds of priestly and religious vocations in the hearts of the young Hispanic men and women they met here.

Deacon Pedro Gonzales ministered at St. Lawrence and St. Philip Neri parishes in Indianapolis and St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville.

Deacon Gonzales has preached at Masses, celebrated baptisms, blessed houses, been involved in numerous areas of catechesis and helped prepare Hispanic young adults to participate in a 2006 Encuentro, a national meeting of Hispanic Catholics to be held at the University of Notre Dame.

Ministering at three parishes in Indianapolis and Shelbyville helped Deacon Gonzales see the many needs of Hispanic Catholics in the archdiocese, especially for priestly vocations.

But he said that the presence of ordained ministers from Mexico among the Hispanics is a way of fostering vocations here in the archdiocese.

“They see us as a part of the world,” Deacon Gonzales said. “We’re with the people. They see us as one of them and so that in itself is a motivating factor to the priesthood or religious life.”

Deacon Emeterio Gomez ministered at St. Monica and St. Gabriel parishes in Indianapolis. In these faith communities, he trained altar servers, led youth and young adult groups and preached at Masses.

Julia Gonzales, a member of St. Monica Parish, collaborated with Deacon Gomez to train boys and girls as altar servers.

Born in Mexico, Gonzales said she appreciates having deacons from her home country ministering among Hispanics in Indianapolis.

“I think it’s great for them to visit us here and for us to see what they’re doing and see how they work,” she said.

But Gonzales said she also recognizes that the benefits flow both ways for Deacon Gomez.

“The traditions in Mexico are very different from the traditions that are here,” she said. “And between those two, he’s learning a lot.”

Deacon Gomez said that providing solid catechesis to children, much like what he and Gonzales do when training altar servers, lays a necessary foundation for future priestly and religious vocations.

“With this base, it is much easier to create a sense of vocation within them,” he said.

Deacon Ismael Jimenez ministered at St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis, where all three deacons resided during their stay in Indianapolis.

He has been involved in catechetical programs there, with special attention on fostering vocations.

In this area, he has overseen weekly vocations dinners at St. Mary that have regularly attracted 10 to 15 Hispanic young men and women. At these meals, the deacons gave presentations and the participants discussed aspects of priestly and religious life.

The deacons from Guadalajara hope to pass on to this small community of discerning men and women the blessings they have received by being a part of the 1,500 seminarians for their home archdiocese, which includes 6 million Catholics.

Many of the Mexicans who have come to live in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are from the state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located.

This is the third consecutive year that the Archdiocese of Guadalajara sent three seminarians to minister to Hispanic Catholics here, although this is the first year that all three were deacons.

Deacons Gonzales and Gomez were ordained last May while Deacon Jimenez was ordained in December 2004. They are scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 2006.

In the short time that they ministered to Hispanics in the archdiocese, the deacons said they have learned much about them and their lives of faith.

“The majority would rather be at home [in Mexico],” Deacon Jimenez said. “But they come here because of economic need. After coming here and stabilizing their economic situation, then the journey becomes more of the interior journey that is still not at peace.”

The deacons noted that this disharmony is often manifested in Hispanic immigrants in a breakdown of the family.

Men sometimes will have children in Mexico and children in the United States. Cohabitation is common and divorce is frequent.

This inner dissatisfaction led the deacons to spend time simply listening to the cares and concerns of Hispanic Catholics and trying to give them hope.

“They want us to help them,” Deacon Jimenez said. “They want us to walk with them. They want us to help them with their questions of life, their own interior growth needs. They want us to listen. We listen to them.” †


Local site Links: