On June 2, 1984, Deacon Frank Chavez and his wife Mary Chavez, said yes to a life of service, when he was ordained a permanent deacon.
For Deacon Frank and Mary, saying yes was not an easy decision, because this pathway of service was largely unknown to them, and as a young family, they truly had their hands full while raising their young children and working to provide for the family’s needs. Through God’s providence, they received an outpouring of support from their family, parishioners, formators and community of faith that enabled them to move forward in their new life of service. Deacon Frank and Mary said yes to what God was asking of them; this included putting their doubts and fears aside, growing in their faith, serving others, following Jesus and bringing Jesus to those in need.
Deacon Frank and Mary share their joy with all they encounter, and with a sense of love and compassion, they come to the assistance of those in need. In 2019, when I was a deacon aspirant, my father passed away.
During the evening vigil service, Deacon Frank was there. He had likely spent a full day working, and likely had another full day ahead of him, but he chose to be with us that night. He prayed with us, as part of our family and that is a gift that I’ll never forget. I have observed that he makes every effort to do this for all members of the community as well. Whether it’s an illness, a death in the family or a more joyous occasion, Deacon Frank and Mary journey without hesitation to support their diaconate family.
The respect that Deacon Frank and Mary enjoy comes from their humble and servant-oriented approach to leadership. They do not look for seats of honor, but rather, they look to sit with the people, and they speak with compassion and humility through their actions and words. In Deacon Frank and in Mary, we see Jesus, the King of the world, born in the humblest of settings inspiring them to love and serve as He does.
Deacon Frank’s foundational teaching point made to everyone in the diaconate community is that a Deacon’s role is to bring the grace of the altar to those in need, and the needs of the people to the altar. This teaching exemplifies a deep respect and love for the people of God and His church and speaks to the importance of the diaconate. His other famous teaching point is to add “God Willing” after every mention to the potential ordination of deacon aspirants and candidates. Everyone who was formed as a deacon under Deacon Frank, will remember these words for years to come! This speaks to a total trust in God and willingness to say yes to whatever He calls us to do.
When we take our eyes off Christ, we tend to get lost, but we rejoice when we find Him. During our pandemic shutdown we saw Deacon Frank, with eyes fixed on Christ, rise to the occasion in leading our community to serve those in need, including the homeless, the sick, the poor, the lonely and those on the margins of society. He also kept our diaconate formation program going, showing us that with our eyes, hearts and minds, oriented towards Christ, we can thrive and experience peace, even in the worst storms of life.
Deacon Frank and Mary Chavez, now married for over 51 years, strive to live out the gospel and to follow our one true leader, Jesus Christ. This is a recipe for joy, and those who have met this wonderful couple know that they are truly filled with joy! As we approach the close of one chapter in their lives of service and the start of another, with sincere hearts, we thank you Deacon Frank and Mary. May God grant you continued joy and all the graces you need to continue in your ministry as you “Go, and Announce the Gospel of the Lord”.