Call from God changes plans

Freedom New Mexico: Liliana Castillo Sister Elia Hernandez, right, came from Mexico City for a special celebration of Father Carlos, who is observing 25 years as a priest. The celebration is Sunday.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

In high school, Father Carlos Chavez was planning to be a nurse. He had a girlfriend and was planning to get married. He was shy, timid and introverted.

All of that wasn’t enough to deter Father Carlos when he got a call from God.

“I had a calling. I answered it. Partly, it was a realization that there is more to life, another dimension I’d never realized,” Father Carlos said.

It’s been 25 years since he was ordained at St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe. And this year marks his 15th as priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Community Church in Clovis.

With all that experience, Father Carlos said he’s surprised he ever became a priest.

“As a shy kind of person, being a priest goes against everything I thought I could be,” he said. “But through all these years, I’ve seen what is possible with God if one is obedient.”

Being a priest was something Father Carlos had dreamed about as a child growing up with his grandmother in Santa Fe.

“My grandmother’s faith was very strong and it was a strong influence in my life. Her faith was vibrant and real and it attracted me,” he said.

Through his 25 years as a priest, Father Carlos has fought his timid nature, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea and severe allergies. He said looking back on his priesthood thus far, it didn’t seem possible to get where he is today.

“Now I feel like I’m just beginning again. In God, there is always a future. There was ‘was’ and there still is an ‘is’ that needs to be fulfilled. Where I stand now is humbling,” he said.

People from out of town and the 860 families who attend Sacred Heart will be celebrating Father Carlos’ milestone with him Saturday.

Among the crowd, a special guest came from Mexico City to celebrate with Father Carlos.

Sister Elia Hernandez worked with Father Carlos while he was at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Santa Fe 25 years ago. The two have remained friends and she made sure to be in Clovis for the celebration.

“I came because I wanted to thank God for his life, his vocation and his faithfulness and our friendship,” Sister Hernandez said with Father Carlos translating.

Sister Hernandez is the Vicar General of the Guadalupanas Sisters De La Salle. She oversees 270 sisters and has met the Pope.

“I admire his service to the people and the parish. And his willingness to sacrifice for the sake of others. He will go without food, sleep, or rest to get things done for others,” she said. “I admire that he is happy even though he’s ill and worries. I believe it is because the Holy Spirit lives in him and he has become the temple of God. I believe he has been taken seriously because he was called to be a representative of Christ.”