On Sunday 8th May, Carlos Esteban Rojo was ordained as Deacon by Bishop Michael Router, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Armagh. Deacon Carlos was born in Madrid to baptised but non-practising Catholics. Prior to his baptism, his parents, Fulgenico and Maria Araceli decided to fully commit as Catholics and subsequently took an active part in the church. Carlos is one of 7 children, 2 brothers and four sisters, Alberto, Francisco, Teresa, Isabel, Miriam and Sister Caridad.
They were present along with other members of his family for his ordination in Armagh Cathedral. Travelling from as far away as Romania, Argentina, Rome and Valencia. They included many of his 17 nieces and nephews and whilst his late mother was missed Carlos felt her presence with him during the ceremony, ‘looking down from heaven’. There was a few wonderful moments later when the whole family were able to sing together.
The example of Mission
When Carlos was 13 years old his parents moved to Buenos Aires as missionaries. They lived in a Villa Miseria which is a type of shanty town found in Argentina and worked with and among the poor and needy. Carlos recalls their mealtimes shared with many less fortunate people from the area. After studying at university, his first vocation was as a physiotherapist – this career was inspired by his friend who suffered from cystic fibrosis. He remains enthusiastic about bio-medical science and sees the link between faith and science saying even with science, ‘there are many things we believe but can’t see’.
Deacon Carlos returned with his family to Madrid at the age of 25 and a year and a half later they moved again to Dundalk . After his mother died suddenly in 2010, he helped care for his younger siblings and believes that in the midst of suffering, great grace and insight can be received. The untimely death of his mother reinforced to him that you do not know the time of your calling and led him to eventually decide to enter the seminary.
When you are doing the will of God, you are happy
Carlos continues his formation at the Redemptorist Mater Seminary in Dundalk which was set up by the Archdiocese of Armagh 10 years ago. Part of the seminarians training involves studying in Maynooth as well as mission placement. Carlos spent a year in South Africa and Sardinia and reflected on their policy of sending the seminarians to any part of the world by saying – ‘in doing the will of God you are happy’.
His current placement in Newry Cathedral is a great blessing for us and as one of the parishioners commented, ‘Deacon Carlos faith shines as brightly as his smile for us’. Music plays a great part in his life, and few will have missed his beautiful, trained tenor voice. He believes as St Augustine does that singing is praying twice.
Deacon Carlos has great humility in his faith and every night he recaps, did I help people today? This need for humility in the service of others through the diaconate was emphasised by Bishop Michael Router in his sermon stating that, ‘like the Good Shepherd, we are all called as disciples, and we must let our light shine without fear and be an agent for change we must challenge falsehood and injustice in everyday life. Service is the mark of our discipleship’.
Poverty is everywhere
Whilst Deacon Carlos has great experience in working with poor and marginalised, he believes that ‘poverty in Newry is different to South America. We all carry poverty in one way or another and it is not always a lack of material things.
He is a strong supporter of the enhanced role of the laity brought in by the Second Vatican Council. He states,
‘The role of the laity is the Family of the Church and there is so much for Lay people to do’.Deacon Carlos
He quoted Mother Teresa when she was asked by a reporter what are you going to do about the church? and answered you are baptised so what are you going to do?
Catholics in Ireland need to return to Scripture
Deacon Carlos believes,
‘God wants us all to be happy and is convinced the Lord will provide comfort to him during his ministry. In heaven we won’t have relationships and therefore God is enough for me’.
With the present difficulties with the Church across the world he believes that our church will shrink,
‘but like a house that has bad foundations the church needs rebuilt with a stronger emphasis on scripture and good preaching’.
He recognises that Catholicism in Ireland has not had the tradition of relying on the messages from scripture. He would like to see all our homes have a copy of the bible and parents as teachers of the faith fostering an understanding of the joy of the Gospel.
A breath of fresh air
Deacon Carlos would like to thank his family and friends who came from all around the world for his ordination. He would especially like to express his gratitude to the Rector of the seminary who accompanied him through his formation and all the seminarians who participated in the liturgy of his ordination. He would also like to thank Canon Brown and the priests of Newry Cathedral Parish who have helped him along this pastoral year and all the people of Newry Cathedral who also with their faith experience accompanied him in his formation.
Canon Brown congratulated Deacon Carlos describing him as, ‘a breath of fresh air in our Diocese. He has a joyful openness to God’s power and brings Christ to all he serves. He has a great understanding of life through his experience in working not just in Ireland but also Europe, Africa, and South America. As Deacon Carlos takes a major step forward in his discipleship, my fellow clergy and the parishioners of Newry Cathedral Parish will keep him in our prayers and wish him well’.