Lopez brothers supported one another on their journey to be permanent deacons
Long involved in their parishes, it was no surprise that God called Guadalupe I. Lopez and his younger brother Faustino Lopez to be permanent deacons. The surprise came when they went to the first information session sponsored by the Diocese of Peoria and found each other there.
“Neither of us knew the other was going to be a deacon,” Deacon Faustino told The Catholic Post at the reception following their ordination with 22 other members of Class X plus two transitional deacons on May 20. (See the related story.) “We met here.”
Deacon Guadalupe serves St. Malachy Parish in Rantoul and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Thomasboro, while Deacon Faustino ministers at St. Mary Parish in Champaign. Both credited their pastors and the priests they met through Cursillo with planting the seeds of their vocation.
It was Father Joseph Hogan, pastor of St. Mary in Champaign and St. Patrick in Urbana, who asked Deacon Faustino if he would consider it.
“At first I told him, ‘What is a deacon?’ I didn’t know what a deacon was,” Deacon Faustino said. They discussed it and Father Hogan asked him to talk about it with Josefa, his wife.
When they met again, Deacon Faustino asked, “Why us? There are more people prepared with English and everything.”
“I see something. You guys have something,” Father Hogan told him.
While he doesn’t know what that “something” was, Deacon Faustino and Josefa said “yes” and “Here we are, five years later.”
What Father Hogan may have noticed is that Deacon Faustino was active as a reader, an acolyte and helper, an usher and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for his Champaign parish.
SHARED JOURNEY A “BLESSING”
Deacon Guadalupe said his call also came through service to his faith community in Rantoul, where he has lived since emigrating from Mexico nearly 29 years ago.
There were no Spanish Masses at the time, so one of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, at St. Malachy started to gather the Hispanic Catholics to go over the Sunday readings in Spanish. When she left, she asked Deacon Guadalupe and his wife, Leticia Flores, to take leadership of the group.
“At the same time, we saw the need for catechism in Spanish, so we started being the catechists — teachers for CCD,” Deacon Guadalupe told The Post. “Then we led the group for confirmation classes. Our ministry in the church was growing, but I also got involved in Cursillo.”
Since making Cursillo in 2008, he said several priests told him, “You should be a deacon.” He went on to serve as the lay director for Cursillo in Español for two years during his formation for the permanent diaconate, missing only one Cursillo weekend.
“That’s the way the Lord called us,” Deacon Guadalupe said. “Now here I am to serve in other ways.”
He said it was a blessing to have his brother as a companion on the journey during their formation. Deacon Faustino said he feels the same way.
“As brothers we support each other, not only here but through our lives. It was a lot of help,” he said, adding thanks for the support of their wives.
Since English is not their first language, the brothers also depended on one another for discussion of the material presented during their classes. “I think that was something that kept us going,” Deacon Guadalupe said.
For him, discerning was the best part of the process “because we followed in Jesus’ steps and this is how we are called, to be a representative for himself. To serve and not to be served. . . . Hopefully we will do it with joy and we will do our best.”
For Deacon Faustino, the best part was being able to feel the prayers of so many people.
“It was not an easy road coming here, so when you see the prayers of all you friends and relatives, especially my mom, you remember the way to live,” he said.
Their mother, Emilia P. Martinez, came from Phoenix, Arizona, to be present for their ordination.
The deacon brothers are preparing to welcome new pastors this month, so their duties are not yet defined. There is still much to be done, however. Deacon Guadalupe, for example, preached at all the Masses his first weekend as a permanent deacon and has had a funeral already.
They also noted that the Spanish-speaking community is large and growing in both areas “and more people are needed to minister to them before they are lured away.”