‘God is with me’

North Texas Catholic
(May 2, 2024) Local

Luis Miguel Urrutia, the departing coordinator of Pastoral Juvenil, an apostolate of the Diocese of Fort Worth, is seen at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Fort Worth on April 10. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

When he was just 11 years old, a young Luis Miguel Urrutia served as a lector for the first time in his hometown parish in rural Michoacán, Mexico.

“I completely butchered it,” Urrutia recalled, laughing as he remembered the rush of nerves he’d felt. “But all of that quickly faded away because of a sense that was very deeply embedded in me — an understanding that despite the bullying and the cutting jokes that I’d received for my childhood lisp, I’d prayed to God that He would help me. 

“I think that feeling was so big that He heard me because I felt Him hold on to me then, and He’s never let go,” he continued.

God’s presence has continued to bolster him and feed his passion for sharing the faith, no matter where he is. A parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Fort Worth of eight years, Urrutia now serves in his parish community and beyond. Along with his continued role as a lector, he sings in the choir, teaches quinceañera dance classes, visits hospitals with the parochial vicar to sing to sick children, and strives to help young adults across the diocese form a strong connection with God.

“Spiritual formation, organization, and the will to do something — this is how God has equipped me,” he said.

Those traits have helped him as the coordinator of Pastoral Juvenil, a diocesan youth community that invites all the parish Hispanic young adult groups together for fellowship and prayer on a larger scale. Urrutia entered the volunteer position four years ago and endeavored to grow the group by sharing his devotion to the faith, hoping to inspire others to form a strength in connection with God.

“Sometimes, young immigrants like me or native-born chavos [kids] find difficulty feeling a sense of welcome, feeling like they can’t adapt or become a part of something. We always discuss this in our Pastoral meetings — our intention is to help everyone feel like part of the community, feel part of the Church,” Urrutia expressed.

Under Urrutia’s coordination, the community has grown from two church youth groups coming together to seven participating parishes engaging in regular fellowship, averaging nearly 200 participants per activity, stated Deacon Rigoberta Leyva, the director of the diocese’s Hispanic ministry and supervisor of the Pastoral Juvenil Council.

“I wanted to make sure that there existed a venue, an opportunity for others to encounter Jesus, but in their own way, as that encounter can be incredibly personal,” Urrutia said. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet Him, yes, but I don’t expect them to encounter Him just as I did. Instead, I strive to provide [young adults] with the chance to open up and have the support to put their faith into action in their lives and in whatever country they may reside.”

Being a part of this ministry and volunteering in this way helps him feel closer to God and others.

“Every time I volunteer, I do so because the desire comes naturally to me; it’s not transactional in any way… I’ll say to God, ‘I donate my time to You, the best of me to You,’” explained Urrutia, who works in the industrial HVAC business.

He draws from lessons of faith his parents and family instilled in him as a child to assist others in forming an authentic connection and love for God. The Pastoral’s annual Rosary for Peace stemmed from his personal devotion to Mary, which his mother helped foster in him. 

“My mother would tell me when I was young that if I behaved badly, the Virgin Mary would cry. So I would try my best to not upset this lady. Being so young, I didn’t understand that she was speaking about Our Lady of Fatima; regardless, I didn’t want her to cry because of me,” he shared. 

The simplicity of this story about Mary drove home in him a sense of reverence, love, and pride for Jesus’ mother, said Urrutia. He made a point to organize the Rosary for Peace outside so the young adults, too, could see and develop that sense of pride and love for Mary and her child.
“It’s a beautiful event where we can express our faith outdoors, proclaim our love for Blessed Mary, and ask for her intercession in praying for world peace,” he said. “This will be our fourth year to hold this event.” 

Urrutia worked to better reach contemporary young adults. “Today’s youth is very visual,” he suggested. “They need movement and lights and something that will bring them in … and they come and speak on depression, lapses in faith, a sense of desolation, and more.”

He described the group’s Easter retreat, where in the reenactment of Christ’s Passion, Urrutia directed the soldiers to appear representing different vices and sins he has seen many struggle with in today’s culture: envy, indifference, materialism, and more. 

“It was a simple idea, but it carried a heavy impact for our retreatants,” he said. “It’s a special type of moment. I hope that every youth in the Pastoral has experienced an encounter with Jesus during one of our events. This is why I treasure the existence of this program and why I’ve poured so much of myself into this ministry: so any young adult can feel just as available and excited to grow in their faith as they may be to attend a dance or a weekend drinking with friends.”

Moving forward, as he eases out of the Pastoral’s coordinating position, Urrutia hopes to continue working with his close friend, Friar Feliciano Torres Castro, OFM Cap., the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to serve the faith communities in the diocese.

“God has been with me every step of the way. I have so much to be grateful for,” Urrutia expressed. “I may not have been the best coordinator, worker at my job, singer, dance instructor, or even the best lector. I know I’m not the best in anything, but if there is one thing I can say with complete confidence: I have done the best that I can possibly do — because God is with me, and that is everything.”

To honor Urrutia’s devotion and service to the youth ministry, Dcn. Leyva and the Pastoral held a celebratory Mass and dinner for him on April 13 at the Diocesan Formation Center. The group’s council will convene in the next month to discern its next coordinator.

Luis Miguel Urrutia, Pastoral Juvenil, coordinator, Spiritual formation, youth community, trending-english