When a man responds to God’s call to be a permanent deacon he must have trust. That trust is especially important when Hispanic men in the United States hear the call.
I caught up with Deacon Felix Hernandez on a 90 degree day. He’s a permanent deacon at St. Mary Catholic Church in Marshalltown. He also works full-time in construction and roofing. We shared lunch at the job site. He shared how God sustained his family the past three years.
Before ordination in 2009 Hernandez’ wife, Cynthia, an employee at Swift & Company, was detained and deported back to Mexico. He was left a single father and provider for their four children.
Archbishop Jerome Hanus still ordained Hernandez, who along with Cynthia, had completed several years of formation classes. He shared how important community support is for candidates and their wives. “They allowed us to bring our children on formation weekends in Waterloo,” he said, but added, “Prayers are most important.”
Hernandez continues to work for Cynthia’s return. He visits her, but he and his U.S.- born children stay here. “We have two children that are in high school with the opportunity to study in Iowa,” he said. “Their education here would be better and we cannot leave them.”
Deacon Felix explained how ministry relates to family life. “To unite with Jesus gives one life,” he said, “But you have a spouse, you have children and work every day. You continue being a man.”
Hernandez plays guitar and reads history books. He preaches at Mass and enjoys presiding at Holy Hours of healing. On trips to Mexico he’s preached over the radio.
“Everything is done with the help of God. Without God we can do nothing,” he reminded me, “God has helped me, leading me in the hope that my wife will be reunited with us again.”