December 6, 2022 at 4:31 p.m.
New deacons enjoy helping people in their ministry
Jesús Hernández has started preparing his homily for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Church of St. Mary in Melrose.
The celebration will be special for Hernández and Jorge Carrillo. It will be the first time these St. Mary’s Parish members will celebrate the Hispanic feast day as permanent deacons for the Diocese of St. Cloud, serving parishioners in the Area Catholic Community in Melrose, Meire Grove, Greenwald, Spring Hill, Freeport, New Munich and St. Rosa.
There is also a special connection for Carrillo to Dec. 10. It is the day he and wife Lorena will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
Lorena and Hernández’s wife Angelica both played an important part in their husbands’ new ministries during formation and now in active life.
So do their families. Each are fathers to five children, and pride shows in their faces as they talk about their children. Hernández’s children are ages 2 to 19, and Carrillo’s are 7 to 24.
They both came to the United States from Mexico as children; Hernández, now age 42, was 19; and Carrillo, now 44, was 13.
“I was looking for a job and better life,” Hernández said.
Both have lived in the Melrose area close to 20 years and have been St. Mary’s parishioners at least 10 years. At first Hernández worked at Jennie-O Turkey Store and currently is a supervisor at the Felling farm near Sauk Centre. Carrillo worked at Daybreak Foods in Long Prairie when moving to Minnesota, followed by Jennie-O Turkey Store and now works at Borgert Products in St. Joseph.
They smile when admitting they knew no English when they arrived in their new country, which they now call home, but they are learning, thanks to the Rev. Arockiya Newton, parochial vicar, who is teaching them the language.
Their Catholic faith was a big part of their lives growing up and continues to be.
“The Spanish people like to pray for the holy hour,” Carrillo said. “There is music, reflecting and saying thank you.”
Seeing a need for deacons in the diocese, they chose this ministry, especially in communities with a growing Hispanic population.
“I see sometimes a priest needs help with the language, and now I’m a deacon and I think it is great I communicate better and help the community,” Hernández said.
Carrillo recalls when he wanted to learn more about the holy hour, when the Rev. Mitchell Bechtold, former One in Faith parochial vicar, was doing Blessed Sacrament adoration in Melrose.
“And he said, ‘You help me,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I help you,’” Carrillo said.
Fast forward a few years, and Carrillo was encouraged by his wife, and what he called a “calling from God,” and he said he would “give it a try.”
“I think in my brain I wanted to know more about becoming a deacon, everything, blessings, the sacraments, homilies, the gospel,” he said.
Hernández and Carrillo were ordained permanent deacons June 11 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, in St. Cloud, after five years of formation, with a certificate in pastoral ministry from the diocese.
In November, for the first time, Carrillo led adoration.
“I’m very happy these days,” he said.
Hernández said as deacons they can help with parish life in a variety of ways.
“Hospitality is very important. You develop a relationship with people,” he said. “I can help sick people, somebody dying.”
Carrillo’s favorite part of his ministry is helping people, especially marriage preparation.
“Helping with the sacraments, baptisms, weddings,” he said. “Working with people, it is hard sometimes when they are sick or have problems, but we are here to help everybody.”
Both like assisting during Mass. They are happy to see more people returning to the 12:30 p.m. Spanish Mass each Sunday at the Church of St. Mary, after the pandemic lessened participation.
They are hopeful people of all cultures will attend the Dec. 10 Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is a Catholic title of Mary, mother of Jesus, who appeared to Juan Diego Dec. 9 and Dec. 12, 1531. The feast day is Dec. 12.
“In Mexico, it’s a great day of celebration,” Carrillo said. “People process around town with music, fireworks.”
“It is very important to present their faith for the Latinos,” Hernández said.
They will start Dec. 10 reciting the rosary at the Melrose church at 5:30 a.m., with music and food following the rosary. The music filled, bilingual Mass will start at 6 p.m. with a procession of children laying roses and flowers around a statue of Mary, depicting many cultures. Traditional Hispanic food will be served following Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic School gym in Melrose.
Carrillo will help with preparations. Hernández will give the homily during the Mass.
It will be a special day for the two new deacons and their families.