Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ask and Ye Shall Receive: A full-time Spanish speaking priest for St. Ann's

UPDATE 10/2014: This update would be better titled "Be careful what you ask for." Fr. Acho returned to Peru shortly after his appointment, ostensibly to tend to his dying mother. So, imagine our surprise when we read the following notice recently on the website of the Old Roman Catholic Church Latin Rite (an independent Catholic denomination, not under the Pope): "Padre Alcides Jorge Acho, is appointed to be the Bishop of the new Diocese of Peru. Padre Acho comes to the Old Roman Catholic Church, Latin Rite, from the Papal Roman Catholic Church. Father Acho left active ministry with the Novus Ordo Church in order to enter into the Holy Sacrament of Marriage, and all was done in accordance with Canon Law. Padre Acho has been with this Church for seven years. Father Acho is married to Cynthia and they have two beautiful Children. We have journeyed with them through the transition period from the Novus Ordo Church to the Old Roman Catholic Church." Interesting...because if this announcement is correct and you do the math, then Fr. Acho was actually already considered a member of his new denomination at the time he was serving in Arlington. 'Nuf said...

God and the Diocese of Arlington have finally answered a long time prayer of mine. For over 15 years, St. Ann's Hispanic community has been served by visiting priests and while these priests have been wonderful, very faithful men of God (and, in the case of the Jesuits, A+ homilists), the lack of a regular full time person to attend to the spiritual needs of the Spanish speaking faithful has made pastoral care difficult and sometimes spotty.

This week we have received the news that Fr. Jorge Acho will move from being priest-in-residence at St. Anthony's to St. Ann's. This move and the associated transfer of Fr. Alex Diaz to St. Anthony's is arguably the best human resource allocation decision for Hispanic ministry that the diocese has made since it moved Fr. Tuck Grinnell and Fr. Hoyos together to St. Anthony's many, many years ago.

St. Ann's has traditionally been a predominantly Peruvian community. Many parishioners are members of the Hermandad del Señor de los Milagros. Fr. Jorge came here from the Diocese of Abancay in Peru and he knows his people's traditions. Over the years he has frequently helped out at St. Ann's, celebrating Mass and assisting with other sacramental activities. He is known and well liked by all segments of that community.

Moving Fr. Alex to St. Anthony's is also a stroke of genius. St. Anthony's, with its two huge prayer groups and alabanza choir, is the "heart" of the Hispanic charismatic renewal in the diocese. It also has the largest Salvadoran population. Fr. Alex, who came here from the Diocese of Zacatecoluca in El Salvador, entered the priesthood from the charismatic renewal and has been one of the spiritual advisors to the renewal here in Arlington, along with Fr. Hoyos. Fr. Tuck, who continues as pastor at St. Anthony's, is very involved with the English speaking healing ministry.

I believe this move can only strengthen Hispanic ministry in our diocese by putting these two men in situations that best showcase their respective gifts. It is the best Christmas present we could receive and I want to salute our bishop: Grazie, Monsignor Loverde, e Buon Natale!
Photos: 1. Fr. Jorge Acho; 2. Fr. Alex Diaz

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