Columbian priests welcomed to Queen of Angels

Published 7:22 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Queen of Angels Church has welcomed two Spanish-speaking priests for a three-year mission trip, with hopes that the two men will enrich the Catholic mass for hundreds of local Latino parishioners.

“The thing I can’t do is the nuances — there is no way you can do the humor, you can’t be subtle about something,” The Rev. Dale Tupper, of Queen of Angels, said. “And I’ve watched the community’s eyes light up when you have a visiting priest that speaks Spanish.”

The Reverands Jose Lizardo Morales, 29, and Ricardo Crespo Guzman, 37, arrived to Austin in June, having traveled from their native country of Colombia. The pair say they served as priests in Neiva, the capital of the state of Huila.

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Morales said Bishop Bernard Harrington invited them to the region during a trip to the country, “because there is a lot of Hispanics here, and they need our help.”

Queen of Angels has become one of the most popular places of worship for many Catholic Hispanics in town. For more than a decade the church has provided a Spanish-speaking mass, though Tupper says having priests with richer depth of the language will be a huge asset to the church.

“It just makes it so much more easy for the Hispanics who want to pray in Spanish and want to hear the good word of God in their native language,” he said.

Tupper added that the priests will assist with all facets of Catholic worship, including liturgies, masses, bible study, wedding and confessions. Soon, Morales will travel to Adrian, Minn., to practice. Guzman will remain in Austin.

“I am grateful with our Lord, which chose me for this mission,” wrote Guzman in a statement. “It is a new experience in my priesthood life. There is many things I must leave — family, brothers in priesthood, our cultures, atmosphere, friends — to travel to a far away country and community the love of Christ to brothers and sisters.

“I have come with all my love and availability to serve this community with all the major wealth that our Lord is,” he wrote.

According to the Diocese of Winona, Harrington will ordain four men, including Ubaldo Roque Huerta of Austin, who will celebrate his Mass of Thanksgiving June 29 at Queen of Angels Church.

Huerta said in a biography sent by the diocese that he decided to study seminary after learning of requests for priests to work with Hispanic immigrants.

Huerta has six brothers and sisters. He attended the Seminary of Tacambaro Michoacan and Seminario Hispano de Santa Maria of Guadalupe, both of Mexico.

Tupper said he will likely work in Winona after he’s ordained.