LEXINGTON — “It is complicated to keep Church and work separate,” explains Jesus Alvarez, newly ordained Deacon of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Lexington, “But I carry God’s love with me wherever I go.”
“My story starts many years ago. I’ve had several ‘calls’ from God. I don’t talk about this to many people,” admitted Alvarez. First Father Paul Collins told him he believed Alvarez would become a deacon. Another time a stranger in a mall stopped him and said he would become a pastor in a new church in Kansas City. The second calling Fr. Jorge Canela of St. Ann’s said Alvarez was a good candidate for the Diaconate program and another pastor told him he would be a pastor in another church. The third calling was in a spiritual retreat in Lexington when another preacher from Texas affirmed this call to become a Deacon.
Alvarez is married with four children. “A lot of people mix up priest and deacon,” he explained. There are Permanent Deacons who can be married (of which Alvarez is one) and those Deacons who are continuing on toward the priesthood. Priests and Deacons perform the same ceremonies, with these exceptions for Deacons: anoint the sick, consecrate the Eucharist, or hear confessions. “I assist the Bishop and the priests,” clarified Alvarez. There are many milestones in people’s lives-baptism, first communion, marriage, quinceañeras, catechism and confirmation.
Alvarez was ordained June 1st 2019 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island, but will continue serving in Lexington. It’s been a long journey and often not an easy one. He studied in North Platte for three years and his fourth year in Lexington. With his full-time job at Tyson the commute to North Platte took time and energy, add in committed study time, church events, and family responsibilities he was always busy.
Alvarez knows and understands what people face in their lives. “I started Tyson in 1992. I was a supervisor for 2 years. I got fired and left for a year, then returned.” Now he works on Processing 715 as a clod puller on the brake chain. He has empathy for people and he can see how far he has come in his life so he’s often giving that message of hope to others. He knows about A shift and B shift schedules. He knows about the day-in and day-out of production work. He’s raising a family. He’s been tested. “I was a drug addict for 20 years, until God called me and it changed my life” Alvarez admits. The ability to see people from both sides of the fence is a gift itself.
“People trust me. They can see that I have gone through hard times and they come to me. I listen. I care. I like to help. And I love my job!” he announces as he heads back to the floor, smock splashed with blood and the musical jangling of equipment following his footsteps.