Mission leader speaks of being loved, called by God
By Annette Jiménez/EMC
Juan José Valdez said to be loved by God is to be loved personally and unconditionally, and God calls his followers for a greater purpose than they can even imagine.
The director of adult faith formation and family life for a parish in the Diocese of Austin, Texas, led this year’s three-day Santa Misión Aug. 6-8 at St. Michael Church in Rochester. The retreat is held outdoors in the church parking lot at the corner of North Clinton and Clifford avenues.
Hispanic parishioners from several area parishes participated, including from Holy Apostles and Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brockport. Father Mickey McGrath, copastor of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, read a welcome letter from Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, who apologized for being unable to join the parishioners due to a prior commitment in Baltimore.
Valdez said he was happy to be making a return visit to Rochester for the retreat. On the first night, he focused on being loved and called by God.
God tells his followers how he loves them personally in Isaiah 43:1: “I have called you by your name, you are mine,” Valdez explained. This is good news for those who worry about their young relatives who may stray from God, as they still belong to him, he added.
“He cares for us and is attentive … to the needs of each and every one of us,” Valdez remarked.
In addition to being loved personally and without conditions, God loved his people before anyone else and only wants the best for them, he said.
“He has a plan for us to be completely happy,” he said.
The human dilemma is we become impatient, failing to see what lies ahead and focus only on what’s in front of us at the moment, he said. He talked of his own experience after he made the difficult choice to leave the seminary, for which he had left his native Guanajuato, Mexico.
Valdez recounted how he quickly fell in love with someone he met at his parish’s charismatic center and thought she was the one. When she broke things off, he argued with God for months about why the situation worked out the way it did. And then, he met the woman who became his wife.
“God had a better plan,” he said. “God wants the best for us.”
(EMC Photos by John Haeger)