A sacrament of global proportions

by Jenara Kocks Burgess

North Texas Catholic

March 7, 2019

Jose Rodrigo Quezada (right) hugs his brother Roberto after his Confirmation Mass at the Midwestern State University Catholic Campus Center in Wichita Falls March 3. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)


WICHITA FALLS — At first glance, Sunday, March 3, may have seemed like any other Sunday at Midwestern State University Catholic Campus Center (CCC) in Wichita Falls for Jose “Rodrigo” Quezada Jarquin as students warmly greeted him and others with hugs and cheek kisses before Mass.

But on that day, his friends also shared the very same greeting with his parents, Monica de Quezada and Romiro Quezada, and brother Roberto “Beto” Quezada, who flew in from Guatemala to be at the CCC for Rodrigo’s Confirmation.

“This is our first trip [to Wichita Falls] because we wanted to see [Rodrigo’s] university, meet his friends, and be at this special Confirmation so we decided to come,” Monica said.

“He has found a family here [at the CCC],” Beto said. “Debbie [Neely, MSU Catholic campus minister] is like his second mother.”

Rodrigo came to MSU from Guatemala to attend the school’s summer Intensive English Language Institute and to try out for the soccer team in July 2018. When the soccer tryout didn’t go as planned, Rodrigo told his mother he wanted to come home. His mother told him to go to church.

“If something is going wrong and you are having bad moments, the only one that can help you figure out those problems is God. I came to the CCC, I cried in front of Debbie, and I told her all my problems. She started to pray with me in the chapel,” Rodrigo said.

“I was not going to tell him he had to stay but was just going to help him discern what God wanted him to do,” Neely said. “Now that he’s here, he has such an amazing warm personality. He is just loved by everyone.”

Months after that conversation, Rodrigo decided to pursue a business administration degree with a minor in entrepreneurship to help manage his family’s restaurant, La Cabaña De Don Robert, in Guatemala City.

Neely said she was surprised when she found out the location of Rodrigo’s family’s restaurant. For almost six years, Neely and some CCC students have taken a mission trip to Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Patzún, Guatemala, which is close to the restaurant.

Sponsor Jose Gonzalez and campus minister Debbie Neely congratulate Jose Rodrigo Quezada after his Confirmation at the Midwestern State University Catholic Campus Center. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)


“I was so baffled, and I thought, I don’t know what God’s got in store, but there is something going on that this young man has come here,” she said.

When Rodrigo told Neely that he had never been confirmed, she encouraged him to attend RCIA classes at the CCC.

“I started to get involved [in the CCC] in July [2018],” Rodrigo said. “During the summer, there was only Mass, but in the fall semester, there were more activities like Faith & Fellowship on Wednesdays, RCIA on Thursdays, and prayer in the chapel on Fridays. I also went to two retreats, one in Oklahoma and one in Burkburnett,” Rodrigo said.

Monica said the CCC became her son’s home away from home.

“Every time I call him, he is here,” Monica said.

On the night of his Confirmation, Rodrigo and his family sat in the front row of the CCC chapel.

“And so tonight, as you are confirmed, listen well to the words that you are asked to speak and the words that I pray while imposing my hands over you,” said Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson during the homily. “Listen to those words for all of us because as Catholics, we need to be reminded more than we need to be informed. That’s why we come to Sunday Mass every week. God reminds us that His love is not one and done. And the gifts of the Holy Spirit aren’t over and done with, but are constantly intensifying and ongoing through the sacramental life of the Church. There is no other hope for us.”

After Mass, Neely invited everyone to a meal made by CCC students to celebrate Rodrigo’s Confirmation with his family.

Bishop Michael Olson poses with Rodrigo Quezada and his brother Roberto, mother Monica, father Jose, and campus minister Debbie Neely after his Confirmation Mass at the Midwestern State University Catholic Campus Center. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)


“I think that our international community is a very big part of our Catholic Campus Center, and it’s evident at Mass today when you have students from Honduras, Guatemala, Africa, and the Caribbean Islands,” Neely said. “It’s really important to me when they come from that far away that they find the Catholic community because it is what unites us, and it is a place they can consider as their home.

“Of course, I reach out to the American students too, but whenever I know there’s an international student who is Catholic, I really want to make sure they get connected to us because they can feel so far away from home, and the Church is universal,” she added.

Rodrigo is now a member of the CCC team who will go on the group’s sixth mission trip to Guatemala at the end of April. The team is selling bracelets he brought back from Guatemala to help fundraise for the trip.

After Mass, Monica talked about how wonderful it was that her son Rodrigo now has friends from Honduras, Mexico, Bolivia, Grenada, and even his home country of Guatemala at MSU.

Rodrigo’s friend Ricardo Tezaguic, who is also from Guatemala, attended the Confirmation with his family. Ricardo and his family even coordinated a dinner at a restaurant in Wichita Falls the previous Friday so that Rodrigo’s family could surprise him with their visit for his Confirmation.

 “We feel very happy because he is close to God and all these people,” Monica said. 

WICHITA FALLS — At first glance, Sunday, March 3, may have seemed like any other Sunday at Midwestern State University Catholic Campus Center (CCC) in Wichita Falls for Jose “Rodrigo” Quezada Jarquin as students warmly greeted him and others with hugs and cheek kisses before Mass.

Published (until 12/25/2039)
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