Laying a Foundation and Raising the Roof. Celebration of Two Oblate Pastors
By Andy Sensenig OMI
Saturday night, August 17, 2019 was a special night of celebration for two exceptional Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Kingsville, Texas. Fr. Isidor (known as “Fr. Izzy”) Garcia, OMI and Fr. James Foelker, OMI were honored for their good work as pastors at the parish by the current Pastor, Fr. José Naúl (known as Fr. Naúl) Ordoñez, and the rest of the parish community. A reception in the parish hall followed the Vigil Mass.
It was heartening to see how Frs. Izzy and Jim were welcomed home by the parishioners attending the mass who greeted them at the entrance. There were many warm hugs and shouts of joy from parishioners seeing these two good Oblates returning home.
Fr. Izzy presided at the Vigil Mass with Fr. Jim co-presiding. The service was filled with laughter and warmth and you could tell the Oblates had returned, but most of all there was a powerful feeling of gratitude and respect radiating throughout the whole celebration.
For me, it was seeing my two Oblate brothers standing shoulder to shoulder distributing communion. It was a powerful expression of the how the Lord has not only worked through Frs. Izzy and Jim, but how it has been transmitted to the parishioners of St. Martin of Tours. Frs. Izzy and Jim graciously acknowledged and thanked Fr. Naúl for his current good work as pastor of St. Martin of Tours.
Then came the reception after the Vigil Mass and it was packed. The parish got a Mariachi to perform and Fr. Izzy instantly leapt up from his chair and joined them in singing many delightful songs. Fr. Jim Foelker, OMI was his quiet gentlemanly self, warmly greeting parishioners, who came up to talk with him and share some engaging memories.
Yet, the sweetest part of the reception came from the witness of the Pastoral Council President, Ms. Rosalinda Gutiérrez, when she shared her thoughts with those present about the two Oblate pastorships of Frs. Jim and Izzy. Ms. Gutiérrez started her tribute with how Fr. Jim Foelker OMI in his quiet, courteous, careful manner helped the parish achieve the financial stability it desperately needed. “He helped us to lay the financial foundation for our parish.” Ms. Gutiérrez explained.
Then, remembering Fr. Izzy, Ms. Gutiérrez talked about how the roof of the parish needed replacing and through all the chaos of a major reconstruction, it was Fr. Izzy’s inviting and effervescent manner that helped the people remain calm every step of the way. Or as Ms. Rosalinda Gutiérrez explained, it was Fr. Izzy’s joy that raised the roof of church.
Ms. Gutiérrez concluded that “…whether, we needed a good foundation or having the roof of our church and our hearts to reaching to new heights, we are grateful for these two Oblates and their work among us and we love them.”
It was a good night to be a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate with brothers like Frs. Jim and Izzy showing us all how to be good gentlemanly sons of St. Eugene de Mazenod, OMI.