by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — There are two questions that people typically ask men who are about to be ordained to the priesthood.
The first is: “Why do you want to be a priest?”
And the second is: “How did you discern your vocation?”
The first question is usually the easier of the two to answer.
“I believe that true happiness is reached by loving as Christ himself loved,” said Agustin Martinez, a fourth-year seminarian at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. “Priests give their own lives in service of those friends of God.”
“Jesus once said, ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,’” he continued. “I believe the priesthood is the best way I could help anyone by showing him that there is a God who died for him, because he loves him.”
Deacon Agustin Martinez will lay down his life for that greater love when he is ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on May 28 at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Kansas City, Kansas.
As for the second question — “How did you discern your vocation?” — the path Deacon Martinez took was as gradual and indirect as the paths of most men who seek the priesthood.
Deacon Martinez was born in the relatively small, north-central state of Aguascalientes, Mexico. Its capital city is the same name as the state. The name “Aguascalientes” means “hot waters” for the large number of hot springs in that area.
His parents were diligent in raising their two boys and one girl in the Catholic faith.
“I was born into a Catholic family,” he said. “We went to Mass every Sunday, [and] my mother was part of the catechesis and liturgical teams at the parish. We also prayed the rosary on a regular basis. I think my Catholic upbringing made it easer for me to discern and consider the possibility of my vocation to the priesthood.”
Deacon Martinez first thought about the priesthood when he was in the sixth grade, but he also thought about becoming a doctor. The stronger pull was toward the priesthood, so he eventually went to the minor (high school level) seminary in his hometown.
In addition to his parents, other people who were influential in setting his path were two of his mother’s cousins who were priests (now deceased) and his hometown pastor.
“The pastor of my hometown was a very good and faithful priest who encouraged me to enter [the] seminary,” said Deacon Martinez.
He went to Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, but also attended classes at Colegio Portugal, a diocesan Catholic high school. After graduation in 2007, he spent a year of formation in spirituality in his home diocese while considering an invitation from the Diocese of Wichita.
Deacon Martinez accepted the invitation and entered Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, as a seminarian for the Diocese of Wichita.
While he was there, he got to know seminarians from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and visited the archdiocese. He decided he’d rather affiliate with the archdiocese and sought a transfer, which was accepted.
After receiving his college degree from Conception, he was invited to study in Rome.
“At the end of my seminary formation at Conception Seminary, I was asked [by then-vocations director Father Mitchel Zimmerman] to submit an application to the North American College in Rome, as it was Archbishop Naumann’s wish to send me [there] to study theology,” said Deacon Martinez.
Rome made a big impact on him.
“I came to Rome at the end of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate and lived there through the conclave and the whole papacy of Pope Francis so far,” he said. “Many beautiful things took place during that time. And now, during this Year of Mercy, living in Rome, I’ve welcomed a lot of pilgrims from the archdiocese.”
Being in Rome has given him a greater sense of the universality of the church.
“[It] has opened my eyes to the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, like those in Africa and Syria,” he said. “It helps me pray for them every day and to try to help in other ways, too, through organizations like Caritas International or Catholic Relief Services.”
He was ordained a deacon by Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Oct. 1, 2015, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He has continued his studies for another year before ordination to the priesthood.
“Deacon Martinez is a very talented young man,” said Father Scott Wallisch, archdiocesan vocations director. “He has great aptitude with languages, and I believe he will be very good at ministering to our diverse Catholic community.”
“He is extremely personable,” said Father Wallisch, “has a good sense of humor and makes people feel very welcome.
“He . . . will make a great preacher and teacher in his parish.”
For his part, Deacon Martinez is looking forward to his ministry as a priest.
“I’m looking forward to being able to celebrate the holy Mass as well as hear confessions,” he said. “I’m eager to find out what my first assignment will be and who my first pastor will be.
“I want to learn from my pastor and from the people I’m assigned to.”
Meet Agustin Martinez Delgado
Born: Aguascalientes, Mexico
Parents: Juan de la Cruz and Catalina Martinez
Siblings: Juan Francisco and Catalina
Hometown: Aguascalientes, Mexico
Current parish: St. Agnes, Roe- land Park
- Our Lady of Guadalupe High School Seminary (Colegio Portugal), 2007
- Bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Conception Seminary College, 2012
- Bachelor’s degree in theology, Pontifical Gregorian University, 2015
- Master’s degree in Augustinian studies and spirituality, Patristicum Institutum Augustinianum, 2016
- Seminary: Pontifical North American College
Last movie seen: “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
Favorite TV show: “Sherlock”
Favorite musical group: The Beatles
My most notable encounter with the famous/infamous: Pope Francis, at St. Peter’s Basilica. I got to meet him before serving for him as a deacon for the Mass of the Holy Family on Dec. 28, 2015.
If I could create my own superhero: It would be Super Father. He would fly, teleport and have the capacity to read minds.
The most inspirational Christian I’ve met: Pope Francis
My favorite class in the seminary was: Hebrew. I enjoyed being able to read the word of God in the original language. I’m amazed at the fact that Jesus would have known and prayed with the Hebrew psalms and Scriptures. I also enjoy being able to study the Bible and see some of the things that are lost in translation, like the beauty of the poetic tools as well as metaphors and images understood only by the Jewish culture.
Books now reading: “God or Nothing,” by Cardinal Sarah; “The Confessions of St. Augustine,” by St. Augustine; and “The Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World,” by the World Synod of Bishops
Favorite food: Barbecue, especially ribs and pulled pork
Least favorite food: Seafood (except for octopus and calamari)
Favorite childhood toy: Yo-yo
Dream vacation: Egypt, visiting the pyramids and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo
Worst job I’ve ever had: Landscaping
Best job I’ve ever had: Totus Tuus
Hobbies: Watching movies, listening to music and reading
If I had a church history time machine, I’d: go back to the time of Jesus so I could follow him, meet Mary and the apostles, and spread the Gospel.