|Deacon Raul Martinez preached the homily at the Mother’s Day Mass May 11 at Holy Family Parish in Fort Worth, where he has been serving since his ordination to the diaconate.|
Reverence and humility show in his eyes, smile, and carefully-worded homilies. Deacon Raul Martinez Lopez worries about his vocabulary and presentation, but to the assembly he delivers his thoughts clearly, even in his new, second language.
Dcn. Martinez, whom Bishop Michael Olson will ordain to the priesthood at St. Patrick Cathedral 10 a.m., Saturday, May 24, assisted at Holy Family Parish’s noon Mothers’ Day Mass May 11. “Yesterday we celebrated Mother’s Day in Mexico,” he told the gathered parishioners, and today in all the United States we celebrate Mother’s Day.
“Jesus says in today’s Gospel, ‘I came so that they may have life in Heaven more abundantly.’ Today we give thanks to all mothers — those who are alive and those who have died before us in the presence of God — for all they have given us in life and for life.”
Dcn. Martinez, a native of Coahuila, Mexico, began to develop a closer relationship with God 12 years ago, and today, at age 38, he seems filled with an appreciation of what happened.
“I can’t tell you that I had a ‘moment.’ It was after I turned 26 that I started to pray more and spend time with God alone. It was all about a relationship with God.
“People would approach me,” he explained, “sometimes complete strangers, would ask if I had considered becoming a priest. Within me I would deny the call that God was making through people. Finally I went through a process of discernment where I decided to be a priest.”
With the continued rapid growth of the Hispanic community in the Diocese of Fort Worth, the local church was grateful for bilingual priests. Dcn. Martinez expressed gratitude to then-Bishop Kevin Vann, who sent him to Mexico “to begin my religious studies.”
As a seminarian, he lived at the Seminario Hispano de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, a seminary formed to provide Spanish-speaking priests to the United States and to form seminarians as members of the Hispanic community in the U.S. While there, he studied philosophy at the Instituto Superior de Estudios Eclesiásticos and theology at the Universidad Pontificia de México. He also served in different parishes and nursing homes, and went to missions in different states throughout Mexico.
Dcn. Martinez has two sisters and two brothers. His mother, Maria Esther Lopez, who still lives in Mexico, will be present at the ordination, but his father died when he was 16 years old.
“My seminary years were a growing experience and a journey, where I encountered ups and downs,” Dcn. Martinez said. “Everyone has doubts; I don’t think I was the only one. I had great experiences and some bad ones.
“One of the best experiences was sharing with my fellow seminarians the Eucharist, all the prayers, and the experience of growing together. One special person was Fr. Rogelio Alcantara, who helped me with the process of discernment. He truly was an example of God’s love.
“Also,” the deacon said, “I lived with 70 priests and seminarians.” Sharing time with each one of them definitely influenced him, he said.
“Before heading out on Sunday, the priests would study the Gospel. They each shared their views and then decided what they would preach that day. I saw unity in God and brotherhood.”
Dcn. Martinez returned from Mexico in July 2012, and he began an eight-month internship at Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls under Father Jack McKone.
”I was studying English, and I would help Fr. McKone with the liturgy. On Sundays I would visit the sick and bring them Holy Communion.
“That really made my day,” he said, smiling.
|Dcn. Martinez receives a blessing from Father Don Donahugh before proclaiming the Gospel at the May 11 Mass.|
In the summer of 2013, before his ordination to the diaconate, he completed an 11-week Clinical Pastoral Education internship at Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth.
“There I worked with the sick, helped them emotionally and spiritually,” he said.
He was ordained to the diaconate Sept. 14, 2013 by Bishop Douglas Deshotel, auxiliary bishop of Dallas. After his ordination, he was assigned to serve at Holy Family Parish in Fort Worth.
“Now I was preaching, serving, and helping the sick. Being at Holy Family has been the best experience,” he said. “I have learned much from Father Jeff [Poirot]. He is an excellent priest — ‘The best one.’ And keep in mind that I have met a lot of priests. I’m truly thankful for his living testimony.
Another influence was Father Richard Flores, who will be one of the priests who will vest the newly-ordained Father Martinez.
“Fr. Flores is the one who helped me enter seminary when he was pastor at St. Rita Parish.”
In addition to his mother, one brother will attend the ordination, as will some priests from Mexico.
Dcn. Martinez’s chalice came from the Knights of Columbus, in memory of Sir Knight Ron Upshaw, who was a knight for almost 50 years and a member of Council 9299 based out of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Arlington, and a Fourth Degree member of the Mary Queen of Peace Assembly.
The assembly participates in a “Chalice Program” by which it donates a chalice or ciborium to a priest or parish when a Fourth Degree member of the assembly passes away. The chalice or ciborium is engraved with the knight’s name. Upshaw’s daughter will be out of town for Dcn. Martinez’s first Mass, but said she was honored to have the chalice donated to the new priest in memory of her father.
Dcn. Martinez eagerly anticipates his ordination, but when he delivered the Mother’s Day homily at Holy Family, he also reflected fondly on his time spent there.
Beginning to speak that day, Dcn. Martinez acknowledged Father Don Donahugh, who celebrated Mass. Incardinated in the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, Fr. Donahugh is a retired military and hospital chaplain living in the Diocese of Fort Worth and serving in area parishes as needed. Of the priest, Dcn. Martinez said, “Today is my last homily as a deacon. Yet I remember my first homily — Fr. Don was celebrating that day too.”
“Fr. Don is a lovely, retired priest,” Dcn. Martinez said later, in his interview. I [am] very close to him.”
Two priests’ lives converged May 24 at St. Patrick Cathedral, when, from differing backgrounds and histories, they lay prostrate in front of the same altar, knelt and promised fealty to the same bishop, and received the same sacrament.
As a young child growing up in Houston, Deacon Gary Picou had a dream. “I wanted to be an astronaut. That was my goal,” he said. However, when the young man took the physical, he learned he was color blind. “My dream of being an astronaut kind of died,” said Dcn. Picou, soon to be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Fort Worth. But in one of many references to the mystery of God, the deacon noted the color blindness may have been one of ways God works, and a demonstration of his sense of humor and providence.
A deacon’s call to teach the faith and serve the community is a vocation — a seed placed by God in the heart of a man. But the family is where that seed is nourished and cultivated. Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, offered words of praise to the parents of Raul Martinez Lopez and Gary Picou, Jr., before addressing the men he was about to ordain to the transitional diaconate Sept. 14 in St. Michael Church in Bedford.
Reverence and humility show in his eyes, smile, and carefully-worded homilies. Deacon Raul Martinez Lopez worries about his vocabulary and presentation, but to the assembly he delivers his thoughts clearly, even in his new, second language. Dcn. Martinez, whom Bishop Michael Olson will ordain to the priesthood at St. Patrick Cathedral 10 a.m., Saturday, May 24, assisted at Holy Family Parish’s noon Mothers’ Day Mass May 11.