Take 5 with Father: a pipeline of God's grace
HE IS: Father Sergio Rizo, pastor of Saint Joseph Parish in Cleburne, where he has served for 28 years.
GROWING UP: Fr. Rizo was the youngest of five children. His parents grew corn, beans, wheat, and lentils on a farm in Jalisco, Mexico. The family lacked transportation to attend Mass weekly, but he grew up praying the Rosary and hearing stories of family members and friends who fought in the Cristero War.
A LONGER PATH: Fr. Rizo entered the seminary at 15. His 21-year journey to the priesthood includes studies in Mexico, Connecticut, Spain, Rome, Dallas, and San Antonio and teaching with a religious order. He also took five years off to work for a large corporation in Mexico City.
HOLY ORDERS: More than 5,000 attended the priestly ordination of Fr. Rizo in the plaza of his hometown in Mexico on May 27, 1989, the Feast of Corpus Christi. “There were no invitations, but everyone was invited,” he said.
A HEART FOR IMMIGRANTS: When Fr. Rizo was in the corporate world, he felt a tug to help immigrants, who “leave their language, customs, church, and family.” In his years at the Cleburne parish, the Hispanic faithful has grown to about 85 percent of the congregation.
ONE CHURCH?: “It is one of the sad things that occur in this whole country, even in the pews, there is discrimination and bigotry.”
FROM THE HEART: If you want a copy of his homily, you’ll have to write it down yourself. To prepare, he sits at a table with coffee and Scripture, then listens to “what He tells me” and gets a few ideas and a structure. He speaks from the heart, adapting the message to the people and place.
ONE AT A TIME: “If you want to serve people, you have to take people for who they are, where they are, or we will never touch their lives. Every one of us has a journey. Every one is different. You have to listen to their story.”
ROLE OF A PRIEST: “The minister is like the pipe that brings the water, but it is God’s grace that showers you.”
THE TAKEAWAY: “Know God, and try to devote your life to the Gospels. The Holy Spirit is an instrument to guide us and guide others to God.”