January 20, 2023

New Hispanic Ministry coordinator is ‘excited for what God has prepared’

(En Espanol)

By Natalie Hoefer

Felix NavarreteThe archdiocese has a new coordinator of Hispanic Ministry. His name is Felix Navarrete.

If the name sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. He and his family were featured in an Oct. 7, 2022, Criterion article describing their flight from Nicaragua as political refugees.

Navarrete and his wife Paholla were working for the country’s supreme court and heavily involved in Church ministry in 2018.

But the government began persecuting the Church. As state employees, the couple was told to participate in opposition to those protesting government corruption and repression of freedom, or their jobs would be at risk.

As noted in the Criterion article, “We got to the point where we were thinking about what would be better,” said Paholla. “To stay for a position with a salary, or to show your children what was the right thing to do?”

So, the couple fled the country with their four children—now ages 7-22—and settled in Indianapolis where Paholla’s mother lives.

Navarrete’s career until 2018 may have focused on the law, but he is no stranger to Hispanic ministry.

In Nicaragua, Navarrete spent six years providing formation and spiritual direction for married couples and youths and served as a catechist for adults for the local Congregation of the Sacred Hearts.

When the Navarretes joined Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis in 2018, he immediately became active in the parish. He is a member of the parish’s pastoral council, helps with Holy Spirit’s Hispanic Ministry, teaches spirituality classes for Hispanic students of the archdiocese’s Intercultural Pastoral Institute, assists with the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life’s Natural Family Planning program with his wife, and founded the Felix Javier Ministry for leading retreats for Hispanic communities.

Navarrete’s desire to serve in Hispanic ministry comes from an insight on Christ’s parable of the talents.

“I came to understand through that parable that God has entrusted his property to his servants,” he says. “God’s property is our Hispanic people, and as a servant I’ve been entrusted to take care of them, to use my talents not for myself but to benefit others.

“From the moment I realized that until now, I am still trying to give the best of me to serve God through our people.”

Navarrete finds inspiration in the life and legacy of St. Padre Pio, who “trusted our Lord, even in the darkest moments, when no one believed in him,” he says. “He knew he had to suffer to get the crown of heaven. Our Church needs more saints to continue our Lord’s legacy of faith, and as leaders we have a shared responsibility to approach this goal.”

He sees this goal as part of his mission as the archdiocese’s coordinator of Hispanic Ministry.

“My hope is to serve and help the neediest, but also to strengthen our Hispanic community’s potential so they can become a new generation of disciples,” says Navarrete. “I hope to work with our people so they can learn to recognize the voice of God, to have an encounter with his Son, and help them grow in their faith and prepare the way to their mission.

“I want our Hispanics not only to represent a number in a survey—I want them to be involved in the life of our Church, because they are our Church.”

Regarding his new role, Navarrete says he feels “excited for what God has prepared, not only for me but for our Hispanic community. I know God does everything perfectly and beautifully when we let him lead, and I want to do his will no matter what.”

He admits to feeling a bit nervous in taking on such a large responsibility.

“But I am confident that my good friend the Holy Spirit will lead me in every step I take,” says Navarrete. “As Padre Pio said, ‘Do not worry over things that generate preoccupation and anxiety. One thing only is necessary: to lift your spirit and love God.’ ”

(To read the article about the Navarretes’ experience in Nicaragua, go to cutt.ly/Navarrete.)

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