Father Pedro Martinez, a new shepherd for the flock

by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

North Texas Catholic

July 2, 2020

Deacon Pedro Martinez prostrate during the Litany of the SaintsDeacon Pedro Martinez lays prostrate during the Litany of the Saints
Father Pedro Martinez lays prostrate as the entire congregation prays for him during the Litany of the Saint. (NTC/Juan Guajardo) See the entire ordination photo gallery.

KELLER — “God’s flock is in your midst. Give it a shepherd’s care” (1 Pt 5:2).

Bishop Michael Olson shared those words of Scripture, spoken to him at his priestly ordination 26 years ago, before raising Pedro Javier Martinez Rodriguez to the Sacred Order of the Priesthood on June 29 in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church.

“Protect the flock from both the wolf and the hireling,” the bishop advised, addressing the transitional deacon on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. “There is nothing better or more precious I could offer you on this joyful occasion.”

With social distancing and other safety protocols carefully enforced, more than 475 family members, friends, and other well-wishers arrived at the Keller church to witness Deacon Martinez receive the sacrament of Holy Orders during the Ordination Mass. An overflow crowd viewed the ancient rite from the parish gym. The liturgy also was livestreamed on the diocesan website where more than 1,300 faithful watched from their homes and mobile devices.

“Pedro had the dream of becoming a priest. His dream is coming true today,” enthused Beatrice Locano, who met the 34-year-old when he was a seminarian assigned to St. Jude Parish in Mansfield for his pastoral year.

The Eucharistic minister heard the transitional deacon’s vocation story during a visit to his relatives in Mexico.

“I was very excited when I got this,” she said, displaying her invitation to the Ordination Mass. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this day.”

Father Pedro Martinez at consecrationFather Pedro Martinez at the consecration
Newly ordained Father Pedro Martinez participates in the Liturgy of the Eucharist during his priestly ordination Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Keller June 29, 2020. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

Dcn. Martinez’ journey to priestly ordination involved years of “praying and discerning,” he told the North Texas Catholic before the start of the liturgy.

Born in central Mexico, he came to Texas with his family as a 14-year-old and later earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. Before entering the seminary, the St. Matthew parishioner worked for the City of Arlington as a human services specialist.

His late uncle, a diocesan priest in Chihuahua, Mexico, was an early influence but Dcn. Martinez credits former St. Matthew pastor, Father Hector Medina, for asking the thought-provoking question, “I see something in you. Would you like to be a priest?”

“The idea comes as a surprise — always, but I saw that priest as a role model and true shepherd,” recalled the former parish youth group member. “I saw the way he cared for the people of God and it inspired me.”

Assigned to serve as parochial vicar at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth after ordination, the new priest is excited about beginning the next chapter in his life.

“I’m really excited to be a priest for the people of God — to take care of their souls, their needs, and just be a representative of Christ to them on earth,” he beamed. “Having friends and family here today is a blessing. We’re ordained to serve people. Even in the midst of a pandemic, God is always with us.”

Bishop Olson echoed that observation in his homily. Calling the current health crisis and civil discord a time of “much fear and darkness with many locked doors,” the prelate encouraged Dcn. Martinez to “trust the Lord always” and reminded him the prayers of the Church brought about this moment of ordination and his “yes” to the call of Christ.

Father Pedro kneels in front of Bishop OlsonFather Pedro Martinez kneels in front of Bishop Olson
Deacon Pedro Martinez places his hands between Bishop Michael Olson's during the Promise of Obedience during the priestly ordination Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Keller. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

“As a shepherd, configured to the heart of Christ, the priest searches out the lost and brings liberty, light, and freedom to captives that can only come from God,” he continued. “The role of the priest is to place himself between the captives and the power of sin to free the captives by claiming them for Christ, our Savior, especially through his sacramental ministry.”

During the most solemn, essential moment of the ordination rite, Bishop Olson silently laid hands on the head of Dcn. Martinez before offering the Prayer of Consecration to confer an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After donning a stole and chasuble with assistance from Father Thu Nguyen and Father Jack McKone — men who played a significant role in his vocation — the newly ordained priest returned to the altar where the bishop anointed his hands with holy chrism. Originating in the Old Testament, the act of anointing with oil signifies a person is set apart for sacred duties.

Seated in a front pew, Jose and Maria Martinez shed tears as their son became a priest forever.

“I’m so glad God blessed me in this way,” said Maria Martinez, the mother of eight adult children. “Estoy muy, muy, contenta (I’m very, very happy).”

Earlier this year, Dcn. Martinez received the chalice that once belonged to his uncle, Father Joaquin Martinez, from relatives in Mexico. He plans to refurbish it.

“Thank you for the gift of your son,” Bishop Olson said to the jubilant parents before welcoming the soon-to-be priest’s five sisters and two brothers. “And thank you for supporting your brother in his service to the Church and vocation to be a priest.”

Father Martinez’ “wonderful personality and million-dollar smile” will help his ministry, according to Ruby Selman.

“He’s what you look for in a priest,” said the St. Jude parishioner. “He’s warm, compassionate, and listens to you. He’s got charisma.”

Father Pedro Martinez at the consecration

KELLER — “God’s flock is in your midst. Give it a shepherd’s care” (1 Pt 5:2).

Published (until 7/2/2040)