Meet the all-Hispanic class of deacon candidates

Men to be ordained are the third Spanish-language formation class in archdiocese

Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila will celebrate a bilingual — English and Spanish — deacons ordination Mass at 10 a.m. Aug. 23 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The six men have been studying through the Denver Archdiocese’s St. Francis School of Theology for Deacons for more than five years. One of the men also took classes at Centro San Juan Diego, the archdiocese’s Hispanic institute for family and pastoral care. All of the men are originally from Mexico.This is the third class of deacons in the archdiocese to have received their formation in the Spanish language.


Deacon Candidate Arturo AraizaArturo Araiza

Arturo Araiza, 43, an Alliance Residential employee, was born and reared in Juarez. He and his wife, Yolanda, have been married for eight years. They have a daughter, Sarai.  Araiza also has a daughter Denise and a son Arturo Jr. who live in San Diego. Araiza and his family are parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua in Denver. Araiza first heard about the diaconate program when he was studying philosophy at a seminary in Juarez. His spiritual adviser suggested Araiza consider becoming a deacon when he left the seminary. Twenty years later when he was in the United States, a deacon friend also encouraged him to consider the vocation. “My heart shuddered at the thought, and for a moment I was filled with fear,” Araiza recalled. “However, God did not relent.” His studies allowed him to grow intellectually and spiritually. He is looking forward to ministering to youth and those dealing with substance abuse. “My wife, Yoli, also plays an important role given her humility and openness,” he said. “She is always in tune with my actions and ready to support me.”


Deacon Candidate Pedro MotaPedro Mota

Pedro Mota, 48, a construction worker, was born and reared in Durango. He and his wife, Leticia, have been married for 27 years and have four children, Pedro, Daniel, Luzemma and Odalys. They are members of Our Lady of Peace in Greeley. Mota was working in Greeley when he felt God call him to be a deacon.  “I, at one time, lived in a world where money and pleasure were at work,” he said. “By the mercy of the Lord, he took me out of there to live in the light. “Just as our Lord Jesus Christ did with me, so can I (help others through diaconal ministry).” Like his fellow deacon classmates, Mota learned more about the Church during his diaconal studies, including expansive reviews of Scripture and canon law. “It was an interesting formation,” he said.


Deacon Candidate Antonio GuerreroAntonio Guerrero

Antonio Guerrero, 48, the director of religious education at St. Dominic Parish in northwest Denver, was born in Candelaria and reared in Zacatecas. He and his wife, Maria, have been married for 18 years and have two children, Samuel and Analicia. They are members of St. Dominic’s. Guerrero was involved in lay ministries over the years but never quite felt satisfied.”I felt the Lord was calling me into a deeper relationship with him and a deeper commitment to his people,” he said. His wife supported his decision to become a deacon and prayed for him along with their children. Guerrero is also grateful for the encouragement and prayers from their parish.He looks forward to ministering to the Hispanic community while also balancing the needs of his family. “I pray that I will be able to apply the knowledge and training I have received so that through this service the community will grow in their personal relationship with the Lord and one another,” he said.


Deacon Candidate Mario Alberto VielmaMario Alberto Vielma

Mario Alberto Vielma, 49, a King Soopers employee, was born and raised in Torreon. He and his wife, Maricela, have been married for 24 years and have two children, Mara and Mario Jr. They are members of Holy Cross Parish in Thornton. Vielma attended a spiritual retreat in 2003 and from then on felt he was called to do more in his parish community. A few years passed and others encouraged him to become a deacon but he resisted. Still, he felt in his heart God’s call and when a friend reminded him his work would benefit the Hispanic community he began the diaconate program.”The Hispanic population is growing and I hope to help because there needs to be more spiritual guides,” he said. “Our studies taught us how to work with people, especially young adults who are in need of God.”


Deacon Candidate JoséAntonio RodríguezJose Antonio Rodriguez

José Antonio Rodríguez, 47, who previously worked in the hotel industry, was born and reared in Chihuahua. He is single and a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Longmont. Rodríguez moved to Longmont in 2000 from Mexico. Ten years ago, he felt a strong need to give his life to Jesus. He joined St. John the Baptist Parish and credits two priests for encouraging him to be a deacon. “All of us are called to serve Christ because he is our Lord and Savior,” Rodríguez said. “He has called me to a spiritual service. I follow Christ with obedience and love to the word of God. I have committed myself to the Church and its authority to help the needs of our people and our community.” Rodríguez hopes to be a humble and simple servant who reflects Christ and brings light where there is darkness and happiness where there is sadness, he said.


Deacon Candidate Roberto CuevasRoberto Cuevas

Roberto Cuevas, 43, a U.S. postal carrier, was born in Toluca and reared in Puebla. He and his wife, Felicitas, have been married for 16 years and have three children, Jesús, Roberto and Rafael. They are members of Ascension Parish in Denver. Cuevas views the call to be a deacon as a gift from God. And like Christ, he desires to serve and not to be served. “I learned to share the blessings that God has given us: our faith and the graces we receive in baptism and in the sacraments,” he said. Cuevas looks forward to growing daily in the graces of ordination and being available to serve in Christ’s name. “God has called me to serve the Church and prepare for Christ a people devoted to every good work,” he said. Cuevas plans to help the community in charity and to console others as Christ consoles us, he said.


COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.