Deacon connected people to each other and to God
March 10, 2021
Deacon Luis Valadez has been described as a bridge – a person who helped connect new pastors at Assumption-Guadalupe Parish in Omaha to their flocks; who with his warm hospitality kept his community connected, and who united Hispanic immigrants with each other and the English-speaking people of south Omaha.
But most importantly, he served as a bridge to Christ, especially as a leader of the Cursillo movement, which guides people into a deeper relationship with Jesus, three of his former pastors said.
That movement was his passion, they said.
Deacon Valadez died Feb. 16 at a San Antonio hospital after contracting COVID-19. He was 64.
A funeral Mass was held March 2 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Omaha, with burial at St. John Cemetery in Bellevue.
About 300 people attended the Mass, a full church in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, said Father Carl Zoucha, a former pastor at Assumption-Guadalupe, who is now pastor at Holy Name Parish in Omaha. Others watched the funeral as it was live streamed.
The turnout at the funeral and burial service attested to the deacon’s impact, said Father William Bond, pastor of Assumption-Guadalupe, as well as St. Mary and Ss. Peter and Paul parishes in Omaha.
“He was a great man,” Father Bond said. “He will be greatly missed.”
Deacon Valadez was ordained in 2002, among the first class of Spanish-speaking deacons to be ordained in the archdiocese.
He was known for his cooking, and ran a restaurant for a time. He and his wife, Hermelinda “Linda,” also frequently fed people at their home, a community gathering spot, said Father Damian Zuerlein, now pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Omaha.
“He was a master of hospitality,” the priest said. “You were always welcome at his house – fed and nurtured and cared for. If you left hungry, that was your fault.”
Deacon Valadez was a strong leader in the parish, even before he became a deacon, Father Zuerlein said. He organized the parish’s Fiesta fundraiser, served with his wife as a family life minister and was on the parish council.
Deacon Valadez knew a life of hard work and simplicity and that helped him connect with the blue-collar population of south Omaha, Father Zoucha said.
The deacon spread the Gospel message with that simplicity, Father Zoucha said, connecting people of all backgrounds to Divine Love.
Survivors include his children and his siblings.