WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Brenda and Carlos Lara are members of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wainwright.
According to Carlos Lara, everybody has a calling from God. The Holy Spirit has allowed him to not only understand his call but to act upon it. On June 2 he answered the call and was ordained a deacon at St. Joseph's Basilica.
"Outside of my children and my wife, this is the most precious gift that I have ever received. The training, the teaching, those things have deepened my faith tremendously," said Lara, a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wainwright.
Born in Mexico City in 1959, he married his wife Brenda in 1983, and together they have four sons. They lived in Mexico for 10 years.
Since coming to Alberta in 1992, he has devoted his time to owning and operating cattle ranches. His interests include avid study of his faith, training horses and working on cars.
Lara applied to the diaconate program out of curiosity, and he is amazed he made it this far.
"I have always had a feeling of obligation towards God for his blessings, and exploring all options on how to live a devout life. Father Ray Guimond was the one who proposed that I should look into it," said Lara.
Prior to pursuing the diaconate, he said he had a primitive faith, and now he has a stronger grasp of what being a Christian means. Brenda also noticed his transformation through the process, saying "It changes these men."
Even for a man with degrees in economics and business administration, the workload was incredible. He studied two or three hours every night, and committed about 600 study hours to the final exam. In the life of a man with a family, career and other responsibilities, finding time to study was difficult.
"I was always worrying about homework because it doesn't leave you for one day. You have to study Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays. If you don't study every day, you just can't make it. The most challenging part was finding time to do it," said Lara.
Brenda said the time he devoted to study was taxing on the whole family. She essentially became a widow because Carlos was working or studying so much.
"My motivation comes from the Holy Spirit because if I had to do this for any other reason, I wouldn't have done it," he said.
Many times during the diaconate process he considered dropping out because he deemed himself unworthy. But his spiritual director, Father Adam Lech, encouraged him to persist. Not out of his own merits or talents, he feels that God has a plan for him to serve in the diaconate.
Every man in the diaconate program faced incredible obstacles, whether with their health, jobs or deaths in the family. But through the challenges, all of them emerged as better men. Nine men started in the program, and four made it to the end.
"We formed a tight brotherhood, and every time someone was dismissed or someone left the program, we felt it personally. We did the utmost to either support them or to bring them back," said Lara.
He will share the responsibility of delivering the homily at Mass in Wainwright, alternating weekends with Father Rajoppa Savariappan. He doesn't yet know what other roles he will play in his parish, but he hopes to focus on liturgy, catechesis and teachings about the faith.
Brenda said he is a great preacher, has a willingness to serve God, and has a reverence for the Eucharist.