Many summers ago, I was interim musician in Plano, Texas. During a regular business day, I received a call from one of my friends telling me about his excitement of finding Christ in the Junior Apostles of Christ (J.A.C.) movement in San Francisco. Shortly after that I met Mario Vierneza, the servant leader of the JAC.
In these few short years of working in the Lord’s vineyard with him, Mario welcomed me to the ministry, to work with him in proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
During my years away from seminary was a time in my life when I drew close to him. As a matter of fact, he had adopted me as his own nephew for the kingdom. During my time in Lincoln, he had visited me with his family several times and we had some great conversations that reminded me of all the good memories I shared with the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
In all honesty, serving this year’s NCRC was not in my radar. As a matter of fact, it was a last minute decision to commit to the weekend at the Santa Clara Convention Center. In a routine manner, I had brought Church Wine for the liturgies, unloading my car. After I was done, Mario asked if I could drive him across the street. In what would be his final lesson to me, he spoke of how he was getting old and suffering a little. Yet, his suffering was okay because nothing compared to the suffering of Christ. He wanted to offer his small suffering for souls. I got him to the entrance of the hotel, he said, “I’ll see you later nephew” tapped my car and I was on my way.
At the opening of the NCRC Mass, it was told that he had a massive heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He did not make it to the morning. For me, it was poetically beautiful that Mario Vierneza died doing what he loved: serving the Lord.
On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, may we offer our complete lives to Christ in order to be like him in all things!