The Saturday evening Mass on November 29 was dedicated to the memory of Deacon Roberto Cardenas, who had tragically died in a traffic accident on that date the year before. In the celebration of the Mass the community welcomed Monsignor Gerard Lopez, Vicar General of the Diocese, who represented Bishop Gerald Barnes, and was the main celebrant.
The liturgy also celebrated the family and ministry of Deacon Roberto as his grandchildren were readers; family members presented the gifts; his beloved widow, Cuca, served as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion; and the Las Niñas ministry dedicated a post-Communion song to his memory.
In his homily Msgr. Lopez mentioned the four times in our lives we encounter Christ; the incarnation, the Sacraments, at our own personal death, and in the Second Coming at the end of time; and spoke of how Deacon Roberto had encountered and been embraced by Jesus on that fateful day a year earlier. Many in the church, however, focused more on how Deacon Roberto had made present the incarnate Jesus through his own visible ministry to the poor and needy. He did this through his tireless efforts to provide foodstuffs for the parish food pantry; as an out pouring of mercy in Rachel’s Vineyard Post Abortion Healing Retreats; inspiring liturgical celebrations and preaching. These things brought to life a Father in heaven who is always caring for his children.
At the end of the Liturgy Deacon Roberto’s daughter, Maria, thanked all who had come to honor the memory of her father, in particular members of the diaconate community who had joined the celebration. In the sending forth the community processed to the Parish Ministry Center to dedicate a conference room in memory of Deacon Roberto. The ‘Salón de Conferencie Diacono Roberto Cárdenas Garcia’ was dedicated by Msgr. Lopez and Fr. Benedict Nwachukwu-Udaku, VF, Pastor of Sacred Heart. It will serve as a memorial space for ministry meetings, counseling, quiet reflection and to house a library for others to learn of the beautiful ministries of the Church which Deacon Roberto manifested.
The renovated space is adorned with stain glass images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, San Juan Diego, and San Toribio Romo serving to remind those who use the room of the sacredness of the setting and of the man to whom it is dedicated.
This sacred space was made possible by the donations of many individuals and groups not only to transform a room but also lives. The Sacred Heart family, in particular the Hispanic Community, has given selflessly to insure the dream of this community gathering place but also to support the family of Deacon Roberto. The later become evident as the evening ended with fellowship in the parish’s St. John XXIII Hall where tributes were made to Deacon Roberto and his family.