By Karina Sandoval
El Paso seminarians Cesar Garcia and Sergio Legarreta are taking over social media technology to evangelize during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On a regular day, Sergio Legarreta, seminarian for San Judas Tadeo parish helps Fr. Miguel Angel Sanchez coordinate live events through Facebook. Sergio coordinates the divine mercy chaplet, the rosary and daily Mass; he also meets weekly with the parish youth group through zoom meetings. During this time, Sergio has encountered the tremendous need to listen one-on-one to the struggles our youth faces every day. He mentions that he enjoys giving them catechesis and listening to their joys and sadness while in quarantine.
Cesar Garcia, seminarian for St. Paul the Apostle parish has been key to coordinate the parish food pantry and to help Fr. Pablo Matta upload daily masses to the parish Facebook and YouTube channel. Cesar Garcia and Fr. Matta record Sunday Mass one day before and upload the video on Sunday morning to Facebook. Cesar is surprised how technology has called many to participate in religious celebrations, he mentions 400 people attend Mass online every day.
The competence that Sergio and Cesar provide to their parish community is an essential element to evangelize during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sergio and Cesar received seminarian formation through the generosity of previous Progress: Catholic Ministry Appeal donors, to create more opportunities of evangelization for our Catholic community, donate to the Progress: Catholic Ministry Appeal 2020 our website at www.2020progress.org or contact Martha Marmolejo, Progress Coordinator at 915-872-8412.
While preaching the theme “Getting Back to the Basics: A Guide for Today’s Parent,” in Bismarck, North Dakota at a Catholic Schools Week Event, Father Michael Schmitz, a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, said: “If my children have left the Lord, I’ve failed. And when I say it’s possible to fail as a dad, I’m looking in the mirror,” he confessed, citing that studies indicate 80 percent of all Catholic high school students will stop practicing their faith while in college.
But, he then added: “You have to realize that you’re not actually in this alone. There is such a thing called grace. And there is a God in heaven who loves your kids even more than you love your kids. There is a God in heaven who wants your kids to be Catholic even more than you want your kids to be Catholic. If you couple your prayers with God’s grace, that changes the world.”
The challenges that parents have to face today in our society in order to make our catholic faith a priority for our youth is overwhelming. Our youth is at a stage in their lives where they need attention, stability, continuity and structure, while through modern technology and advancement, they are being bombarded by marketing professionals who target them with commerce for their own profit. This causes an unstable culture of young adults who are continuously following on other people’s ideas, trends and fashions.
The Diocese of El Paso recognized these dangers for our El Paso’s youth and young adults and that is why they created The Youth and Young Adult Ministry in 1998, which is today led by Father Fabian Marquez.
The ministry has 9 current programs, which he supervises and follows up throughout the year and with youth from all parishes, as required/requested. They meet once a week for formation, all year round in order to develop Young Adult Groups in the Diocese. They are invited to participate every Thursday in our Radio Show “Bridge Kids” and are often invited to participate in youth conferences.
They gather every month to study and discuss theology at the Columban Mission Center. They attend the “Encuentro Juvenil” periodically, they participate in the Slam Jam Volleyball Tournament and participate in the Respect for Life, walk to Cristo Rey, amongst other activities, throughout the year.
One of the most important, activities that the ministry coordinates in several parishes for the youth and young adults is the “Taizé Prayer” (The singing of distinctive and much-repeated prayer chants during candlelit prayer services is one of its trademarks. Taizé music highlights simple phrases, usually lines from the Psalms or other pieces of scripture, repeated or sung in canon. The repetition is designed to help meditation and prayer), which helps them develop a strong devotion to peace and justice through prayer and meditation.
The parents of Our Youth and Young Adults in El Paso are not alone! They have a strong Catholic Faith Community and Ministry that supports them, guides them and teaches them values and faith! And PROGRESS: Catholic Ministry Appeal is there to support this vital ministry!
By Martha Marmolejo
According to definition, a deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state.
According to a friend, whose husband is studying to finish his 5-year program studies to become a diaconate, it is a life changing experience!
Her husband started 4 years ago and he is still as excited as the first day he started his studies. They have two kids who are still in elementary school and one that is going to graduate from high school this year.
They both say that before he decided to become a member of the diaconate, they had serious doubts about it, but put everything into God’s hands, prayed, and God gave them the final response. The timing was a bit difficult, considering that their kids were still young, needed a lot of attention, especially the oldest, who was going through adolescence and was not doing very well in school.
Even though they are very spiritual, they were challenged when their older son got into a bad situation at school. As parents, they took different sides, one opposing what he had done and the other one encouraging to continue doing it. This definitely took a toll on their relationship as husband and wife.
At the time, he was applying to be a deacon and the requisites, among others was to be a perfect example of spirituality in their community of faith. Another one, was to continually pray together as a couple and in the privacy of their home.
This last one, took them to another realm in this world, it helped them see eye to eye into each and every situation their lives were going through and helped them talk about their daily problems and the problems that were affecting their marriage.
By the time he was chosen to prepare for diaconate service, they had resolved the situation with their son, who in turn was happy to do as advised, because at the end of the day, he needed guidance in order to get out of the situation with love. They look forward to the diaconate ordination on 2021, to serve our Catholic community.
The Permanent Diaconate Ministry in the Diocese of El Paso is led by Deacon Jesus Cardenas and PROGRESS: Catholic Ministry Appeal is proud to present and invite you to continue supporting this amazing ministry!