Trust in Him
HE IS: Father Jose Ignacio Olvera Álvarez, CORC, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Fort Worth.
ORDAINED: July 13, 2007, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico.
PATRON SAINT: St. Ignatius
FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE: Psalms 116:12-19 and 1 Peter 5:8-11
A BROTHER’S INFLUENCE: Father Ignacio is one of eight siblings, having two sisters and five brothers. Every one of his brothers entered the seminary at some point in their lives, but of the six boys, only two discerned to become priests, Fr. Ignacio himself and his oldest brother. “At the age of 17, I entered the Menor de Cristo Rey seminary in Guanajuato [a municipality in Mexico]. I’d known the priests at Menor de Cristo Rey for about four years since my brother entered at the age of 15 in 1988. We were very close; I would visit him there all the time, and I’d go during the weekends to spend time with him. But I didn’t think to enter until he really insisted. He’d studied at the seminary, and they were sending him to Spain to continue his studies. Before leaving, we had a very serious chat where he, very formally, asked me to consider whether there was a chance that God was calling me to the seminary.”
A PAUSE FROM THE CALL: Fr. Ignacio recalled that “at first, I entered the seminary with the primary intention to finish my preparatory studies… I studied for a semester of introductory courses, and then I left for a year. But later, I didn’t feel comfortable out in the world anymore. Life felt very monotonous and senseless, so I returned to continue and finish my studies.”
JOURNEY TO FORT WORTH: Upon his return to the seminary, Fr. Ignacio dedicated himself to his education, and like his brother before him, was sent to study theology in Spain for four years. He was then ordained as a deacon in 2005 and later entered the priesthood in 2007. One of his earliest assignments had him serving an indigenous community in Oaxaca, Mexico, for a year and a half before being sent to serve in Puerto Rico for 11 years. A few months after his return to Mexico, his order sent him to the Diocese of Fort Worth to serve as a vicar for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish before finally beginning his time as the new pastor of the Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Fort Worth, where he has been for the past eight months.
GREATEST CHALLENGE: When Fr. Ignacio served in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, the transitory indigenous Aztec and Chatinas communities spoke their native Mixtec and Chatino as well as a broken Spanish. Fr. Ignacio recalls the time serving their parish as “a different and novel experience” but also a complex challenge because of their “very distinct way of thinking and living. The geography of the area was difficult, and the people’s spirituality was, I would say, very contaminated with superstitions. It was very difficult working with them, but it helped me, really, to see other realities that we need to illuminate with the Gospel.”
BEST PART OF BEING A PRIEST: The most satisfying moments as a priest occur when Fr. Ignacio's parishioners come to truly understand that they, too, have the ability to know Christ. The moment that understanding clicks in them “is when their lives transform. And then they can assume the responsibility of knowing Christ and treasuring the sacraments they receive. Because it’s not just receiving the sacraments but living these sacraments so that they can create the impact that Jesus meant for them to have, which is helping us live a new life in Christ.”
ON HOLY NAME OF JESUS PARISH: Although he has served in multiple parishes, Fr. Ignacio believes Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Fort Worth to be distinctive in its culture, but not in its structure compared to the different realities he’s experienced in Ponce and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. “In all locations, there are always challenges, like sharing the Gospel and living in accordance with its teachings as much as possible, but doing so precisely to help impact the community a bit… There is also always some pain in missing the former priest, where there were established ties, but we’re in the process of adjustment, with [the parishioners] becoming more comfortable with me, and I with them. I think it’s going well because they are very generous in their sense of acceptance.”
STANDOUT SACRAMENTS: While Fr. Ignacio believes administering the Eucharist is the most important and extraordinary sacrament, he is especially drawn to the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. “I place a lot of attention and importance to the anointing of the sick because it’s the moment when a person finds themselves in a vulnerable situation and most feels the call to God’s presence… what better time is there to find reconciliation before encountering Jesus Christ? My ability to help deliver His grace to them fills me with joy.”
LOVE FOR THE EUCHARIST: More than anything, the Eucharist is Fr. Ignacio 's favorite sacrament. Witnessing God’s grace and meeting Him at the altar is incredibly special to Fr. Ignacio. “Although we administer the Eucharist daily and many times during the weekend, it never stops being impactful. To then administer the communion to people, being a medium in the process and seeing God’s desire to unite with humanity, is an extraordinary thing to behold.”
ADVICE FOR PARENTS: “It’s very important that your children have an example of someone sincerely living out their faith. Sometimes, we only share an idea of a life of faith, but not the true experience of truly living it. Doing this will really make its mark on a youth, on your kids, and help them learn how to love. We know that parents love their children, but sometimes their children don’t feel loved because sometimes the everyday activities and obligations distract [parents] from the primary task of being with your kids, teaching them to love by example. It’s also very important that parents make their children see that priestly life, the holy life, is a viable option for them to pursue.”
TAKEAWAY: “We need to consider that not everything in life is work, money, or pleasure. Even though they are present in our lives, they’re not the most important. Instead, what’s most important is looking after our well-being and strengthening our relationships with Christ…Like Pope John Paul II would say, don’t be afraid to open the doors to your heart for Jesus Christ because He will be the one to give you the true sense to your life and your existence.”