"Lawrence, Haverhill men serve first Mass as deacons tomorrow"
From the Eagle-Tribune Online
By Yadira Betances
After four years of juggling family, work and commuting 45 minutes to Boston for classes, Jesus Castillo and Julio Vargas will reap the fruits of their labor this morning.
Castillo of Lawrence and Vargas of Haverhill, are among 27 men to be ordained as permanent deacons by Cardinal Sean O'Malley at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.
They will serve at their first Masses tomorrow at their respective churches. Vargas will be at St. James Church on Winter Street in Haverhill at 11:30 a.m., and Castillo will be at St. Mary of the Assumption Church at 300 Haverhill St. in Lawrence at noon.
"I know the Lord has called me since I was a child," said Castillo, who is a lector, Eucharistic minister and teaches religious education at St. Mary. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. I wanted to become a deacon to make a bigger commitment to the church."
During the presentation of the gifts, Castillo will have his first Bible, which his aunt gave him, plantains to represent his parents' agricultural background, flowers from his garden and a photograph of the late Octavio Bobadilla, who was a role model in the faith.
His road to the deaconate was not easy.
During his second year at school, Castillo's mother became ill and he had to miss several sessions to take care of her. His wife of 30 years stepped in attending classes and even taking an exam so Castillo would keep up with the schedule.
Castillo, 58, was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to Lawrence in 1987. He said his vocation was fostered at home, waking up to his mother's voice reciting the "Angelus" and later praying the Rosary with his 11 brothers and sisters. He also has three stepbrothers.
Castillo and his wife, Angela, have two children, Carlos Ramon, 28, and Maria, 22, and a grandchild, Jesus Gabriel. He is a janitor at Greater Lawrence Health Center in Lawrence. She works at Nevins Nursing Home in Methuen.
Vargas, 47, was also born in the Dominican Republic. He worked as a labor rights lawyer for 14 years in his native country before coming to Haverhill. He works at Hi-Tech in Groveland and his wife runs a day care center.
Vargas was involved in the marriage encounter program when a friend suggested he consider becoming a deacon. He was already serving as a lector, Eucharistic minister, prayer group and cursillo movement at St. James Church, and left it in the hands of God. He also hosts a Christian radio show on station 1490 Saturdays at 6 a.m.
One obstacle Vargas faced was working a 12-hour shift four days a week, which not only left him with little sleep, but made him late for school because he had to commute to Boston from Portsmouth, N.H.
On one wintry day, he got into a bad accident and again asked the Lord, "If you really need me as a deacon, lead the way.' I was afraid that if I wasn't a deacon, I would lose my faith."
Vargas said he is glad his ordination day is here.
"I told my wife to take a box of Kleenex because I'm not going to stop crying," he said. "This is like conquering an impossible dream. It's a blessing and a great day to give thanks to God."
Vargas and his wife of 23 years, Milagros have three children, Julio, Indiana and Cesar.
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