Two missionary seminarians ordained deacons

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila presided over the ordination Mass of Deacon Freddy Londoño and Deacon Guillermo Bustillos Nov. 7, who are now ready to embark on their new, divinely-given mission.

Deacon Freddy Londoño
Deacon Londoño was born and raised in Colombia. He is the third boy in his family and has three siblings. Growing up, his parents experienced struggles in their marriage, and when Londoño was 10 years old, he was led to believe his father had abandoned him. His father did return, but as a result of his absence, his relationship with his father struggled.

Londoño worked for his father in a restaurant during his formative years, which also contributed to their strenuous relationship.

“My relationship with him was very difficult. I couldn’t relate with him as a father and a son; for me, he was my boss,” Deacon Londoño said.

He was rebellious against his parents throughout his teenage years. However, when he was 19, he worked in a bakery his father owned in hopes of learning how to relate to him better.

The deep spiritual question of his life’s meaning haunted him during this time. He wondered why his relationship with his family was so poor.

“I didn’t see the meaning of my life because I found myself in this situation in which my relationship with my father was not good, and I was asking, ‘why?’” he said.

Londoño’s father became sick shortly after this. His condition worsened, and eventually wound up in a comatose state.

“I got so scared because I realized he was dying,” Deacon Londoño said. “Something inside of me was telling me, ‘reconcile.’”

Londoño went to his father and asked forgiveness. Although his father was in a coma, he said he felt forgiven.

“I asked for forgiveness for everything I did,” Deacon Londoño said. “When I went out of the room, everything became clear. The colors were brighter. Something happened, and I was completely at peace with my life and my history and my father.

“In that moment, I understood why I was working with my father. That year was fundamental for me because I saw that the Lord was preparing me for this event, and especially for this reconciliation.”

Londoño’s father passed away in April 2005. He says this is when his vocation began. He entered back into the church and experience reconciliation through the sacraments, and was able to reconcile with his family.

In August, Londoño attended a vocational youth gathering and felt that God was calling him to be a priest because of everything he had experienced in his life. He was asked if he’d be willing to enter into seminary immediately, and although he’d taken over his father’s business after he passed away, Londoño decided he would “give everything out of gratitude for what [he] had received.” He was assigned to Redemptoris Mater in 2006.

As a new deacon, Deacon Londoño simply wants to share the mercy of the Lord, the same mercy he’s experienced in his life.

“One thing I have seen is that God has been merciful in my life, so out of gratitude, I just want others to know that there is mercy,” he said. “I never understood the meaning of my suffering until I came to know the love of Christ.”

Deacon Guillermo Bustillos
Deacon Guillermo Bustillos and his family hail from Mexico, near Cancun. He is the third of four boys.

Deacon Bustillos is very excited about his vocation and is eager to serve as a deacon.

“I am very happy,” he said. “I enjoy this moment because I feel how wonderful God is and his love for me. He chose me, [and] I see his mercy and his kindness. He transformed my life.”

Bustillos had studied agricultural engineering, but felt a call from Jesus to change his ways, he said, and now he feels as though he’s found new life in Christ.

“I see the promise of Jesus in me,” Deacon Bustillos said. “He brought me new life, and new opportunity to live and spread his Gospel in other countries and to meet with other people and enjoy the same faith and grow in the love of God.”

Deacon Bustillos loves all the Sacraments, but he is most passionate about the Sacrament of Reconciliation because of the grace it offers and door it opens to a deeper relationship with God, he said.

“When people go to the confessional, the priest opens the doors of heaven to that person through this Sacrament,” he said. “This Sacrament is the key to entering a life with God since Confession prepares me to enter into a deeper relationship with the Blessed Trinity.”

As a missionary deacon, Deacon Bustillos is willing and ready to serve any parish, no matter where on the globe it may be.

“Now I will have the opportunity to serve my church more effectively because I am in a better position to help the parishioners and share the love of Jesus,” he said. “My hope is to show how wonderful and amazing God is.”

COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”