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Deacon Ramirez was one of first permanent deacons

Deacon Joseph "José" Ramirez, a member of the archdiocese’s first permanent diaconate class whose service included helping establish Spanish Masses in south Omaha parishes, died May 25. He was 90.

Deacon Ramirez’s funeral Mass was May 31 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Omaha. Celebrant and homilist was Father Carl Zoucha, pastor of Assumption-Guadalupe Parish. Interment was at St. Mary Cemetery in Omaha.

Ordained in 1973, Deacon Ramirez served 40 years before stepping away from regular duties as a deacon in 2013. His service included 15 years coordinating the St. Jude Novena at what is now Assumption-Guadalupe Parish and helping minister to the parish’s growing number of Spanish-speaking members.

"He was way ahead of the game in serving the Spanish-speaking community," said Father Damian Zuerlein, pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Omaha, who as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish from 1990 to 2003 worked closely with Deacon Ramirez.

"He was the real advocate in the ’80s as the Spanish-speaking population was growing in Omaha," Father Zuerlein said, and was instrumental in creating ministries that would become Catholic Charities’ Juan Diego Center and helping found the Chicano Awareness Center.

Through the years, Deacon Ramirez was active in the Holy Name Society, the Catholic Commission on Human Relations and several civic organizations. He also helped lead efforts in a federal program to encourage minorities to join trade unions.

"He had tremendous compassion and empathy for those who were suffering or experiencing injustice," Father Zuerlein said.

Deacon Ramirez was preceded in death by his parents, Francisco and Anastasia Ramirez; daughters, Ruth Ramirez Tentinger and Margaret Niverson; brother, Cecilio Ramirez. He is survived by wife, Agatha Ramirez; children and spouses, Theresa and Igor Cherko, Joseph Jr. and Katherine Ramirez, Francis and Ana Ramirez, and Roger Ramirez; brother, Monico Ramirez, all in Omaha.

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