Salesian priest from Colombia is visiting this spring, serving in Hispanic ministry

Father Fabian Alberto Cabarcas Rua

LASALLE — A Salesian priest from the South American nation of Colombia is spending this spring in the Diocese of Peoria assisting with Hispanic ministry and discerning God’s plans for his future.

Father Fabian Alberto Cabarcas Rua arrived in the diocese March 9 and has already traveled widely, bringing the Gospel and his own joyful spirit to Spanish-speaking communities in LaSalle — where he is based, at St. Hyacinth rectory — as well as Bloomington, DePue, Mendota, Moline and Peoria.

“Every place I go I find very nice, very humble people,” Father Fabian told The Catholic Post through interpreter Esmeralda Cruz during an April 17 interview at St. Hyacinth.

Father Fabian Alberto Cabarcas Rua, a Salesian priest from Colombia who is spending this spring in the Diocese of Peoria, is pictured with Esmeralda Cruz inside St. Hyacinth Church in LaSalle. Cruz coordinates Hispanic ministry in the LaSalle area. With Cruz is her niece, Nevaeh. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“I am here to serve them,” he continued, “to carry the word of the Lord and to put all my work as a priest at their service.” Those services have ranged from hearing confessions to assisting with retreats, including playing guitar for Cursillo in Spanish participants.

While Father Fabian says his presence in the diocese is “a gift of God, God brought me here,” others see the priest as a gift to the diocese.

“We’re grateful to have him here and we pray that the Lord continues to bless him during this time,” said Rosie Romero, director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Peoria. It was through a mutual priest friend that Father Fabian learned of this diocese. He will remain about four months, serving but also praying for direction. He has let Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, know that among his options is to remain in this diocese, if accepted.

“I know that God will tell me what to do,” he said.


A native of Barranquilla in Colombia, Father Fabian was ordained into the Salesian community on Dec. 6, 1997. He has served both in schools and as a parish priest. This is only his second visit to the United States.

Father Fabian said while there may be differences among the various Spanish-speaking communities in the diocese, he has yet to notice many.

“The faith unites us,” he said, expressing gratitude for the welcome he has received.

Father Faban is also deeply grateful to be in residence with Father Tom Otto, administrator of St. Patrick and St. Hyacinth parishes in LaSalle who is fluent in Spanish.

“He’s a wonderful priest and one of the best brothers I’ve had,” said Father Fabian. “I can learn very much from him.”

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