Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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Deacon joins Cathedral staff
Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff
(From the July 31, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)
Deacon Chalo Martínez has joined the staff of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Spokane. (IR photo)
The year 2003 is a significant one for Deacon Chalo Martínez of Spokane. He turned 60; he retired from his job in the probation office in the U.S. Courthouse; and he finally finished his graduate program in pastoral ministry at Gonzaga University. That last one was especially significant: “I think I got more extensions than anybody,” he said.
But there’s one more significant event in the deacon’s life this year: he was hired as the deacon on staff at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, where he replaces Deacon J. Andrew Phelps, who retired in June.
Deacon Martínez’s last day at his full time federal job was May 30. “I had planned to retire from there after 20 years,” he said. What he would do in the future was not quite so clear. “I had an open kind of plan” to wait and see what would develop.
What developed didn’t take long. “Out of the clear blue,” Deacon Martínez received a call from Deacon John Sicilia, who is director of deacons, about the position at the Cathedral. Deacon Martínez spent some time in discernment but, “I didn’t think I could turn it down since it wasn’t my plan.” He applied, was accepted and started work June 10. “I landed at the right place at the right time.”
Cathedral parishioners will find Deacon Martínez in his office four weekday mornings; his day off is Wednesday. He will assist at the weekday noon Masses – “the highlight of my day” – and also at occasional Masses on the weekend. He will preach at the Masses on the third weekend of each month. He will do sacramental preparation and help people with the initial paperwork for annulments.
St. Mary Parish in the Spokane Valley was the deacon’s first assignment after ordination Dec. 9, 1994, the feast of St. Juan Diego, “an important day to me,” he said. Deacon Martínez was also involved with Nightwalk, a street ministry in which volunteers walked the streets downtown at night to visit with people in their environment.
Then came his time at St. Joseph Parish on Dean in Spokane, to assist the Hispanic community. “Three years after I was ordained, I went to St. Joseph on loan,” he said. “Since I was there most of the time, I finally got assigned there.” Deacon Martínez often gets called to help when members of the Hispanic community, some of whom speak little English, are hospitalized or have other emergency situations.
Deacon Martínez will be almost as busy in retirement as he was when he worked full-time. Along with the part-time Cathedral work, he will continue as deacon for the Hispanic community. He is also a Hospice chaplain and expects that ministry to expand now that he has more time to devote to it.
The deacon gives much credit for his active ministry to his wife, Laura, and their five children, who he said are “very supportive and understanding.” The couple will celebrate 34 years of marriage next month.
That’s the other part of being retired that Deacon Martínez looks forward to, enjoying his family. In addition to his five children, there are six grandchildren who will see more of their devoted grandpa. “I want to spend more time with them,” the deacon said.
Deacon Martínez looks forward to his ministry at the Cathedral. “It’s worked out well so far,” he said. Deacon Phelps “has been so helpful and the people I’ve met have been great.”