by David Tesitor
WALSENBURG- One week after bidding farewell to Pastor Christopher Adinuba, the parishioners of the Saint Mary Catholic Community greeted a new Pastor, Father Martin Frias-Guardado. As he celebrated the Mass last weekend, Father Frias referred in his homily to the Gospel of Mark where Jesus called his disciples by name to “Follow me. I will make you fishers of men.” He told the congregation “we are all called in some way to serve God,” as when he was called to the priesthood at the age of thirteen. “Today, God has called me to serve the people of Walsenburg.” He also said with a chuckle, “You may call me Father Martin or Father Frias or simply, Padre.”
Father Frias was born in the small Mexican village of Nochistlán, in the state of Zacatecas. He grew up in Guadalajara where he attended a theological high school seminary for one year before leaving his family and traveling to the United States in Aug. 1996. After living in this country for two years, he enrolled in Our Lady of the Lake Seminary in San Antonio, Texas to learn English. In 2000 he moved to the Diocese of Pueblo where he entered the Diocesan seminary and was sent to the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Corvors, WI to begin his formal education. He graduated in May of 2003 and was ordained June 6, 2003 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Pueblo.
Father Frias’ first assignment was at Saint Joseph’s Church in Monte Vista where he served the many mission churches in the area. Three years later, he was transferred to Lamar where he received his first pastoral duties. When the need arose, he served the parishes in Walsenburg, Gardner, La Veta and Aguilar. While Father Phil Coury will still serve the La Veta and Aguilar communities, Father Martin hopes to make himself known to the whole area.
As the church’s new pastor, Father’s first goal is to learn the schedule and the rhythms of the community. Father assures parishioners he will “always prayerfully discern the needs of the community before he makes any changes or decisions.” Contemplative in his prayer life, Father Martin would like to establish a First Friday devotion to include the Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a Holy Hour. Father Martin noted that priests are taught in seminary that their three-fold mission is to teach the word of God, to govern by the laws of the Church and to sanctify the people of God. That is what he intends to do. Father Frias’ assignment in our area is for six years. Members of the community welcomed him with a cookie and coffee reception after last weekend’s Masses.