This is the next in a series of interviews with the men who are deacon candidates for the Diocese of Knoxville. Roberto Cortes is a deacon candidate who worships at St. Thomas the Apostle in Lenoir City, TN.
Tell me about your family.
I met my wife Lupe at Monterey Mushrooms farm in Loudon, Tennessee, where I still work. We dated and were engaged for a total of a year and a half. We got married at our home parish, St. Thomas the Apostle, in 1999. We have no children, but remain hopeful. We are very blessed to have our parents and siblings living in East Tennessee.
Are you from east TN? What brought you here?
Work at the mushroom farm brought me here. Lupe and I are both from Guanajuato, a state in Mexico. Our parents immigrated to California. Lupe lived in the North, and I lived in the South. We met here in Tennessee at the mushroom farm.
What work do you do?
I am a mushroom grower/supervisor with Monterey Mushrooms in Loudon. I have worked for them since 1997. Interesting fact: we produce 70,000 pounds of mushrooms a day!
What brought you to your parish?
I have to admit, Lupe had a lot to do with me joining St. Thomas the Apostle parish. God works in mysterious ways.
What service have you done for your parish?
I have mainly ministered to the Spanish-speaking community. My services include: sacristan, lector, altar server, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, facilitating for Bible class, and RCIA.
What drew you to the diaconate program?
Around the year 2008, the seed to become a deacon was planted by our pastor then, with the help of Deacon Jose Rivera. Nothing happened in 2008. About the year 2011, I became more involved in our parish due to a conversion retreat I had attended. After that retreat, Father Jesus Guerrero came into my life as he was assigned to our parish as a seminarian that summer. I was hungry to learn about my faith and, thanks to Father Jesus, I came to know more and more and began to fall in love with God and my faith. god prepared the way for me and when the next inquiry session began, I could not pass up the opportunity to know whether or not this is my vocation.
What has been most rewarding about the diaconate program?
Most rewarding has been the friendship and fellowship we have acquired here among the candidates. Almost right away I felt welcomed by the guys. I felt the love from everybody here and that has been the thing that has most impacted me, the love I feel from everybody here. They’ve embraced me and made me feel welcome.
Have there been any challenges for you during the diaconate program?
The biggest challenge for me, at the beginning, was studying and writing so much. I struggled with writing a paper. It would take me a good while to write. Doing everything in English was tough, but it’s been rewarding. Before, I had a hard time reading books in English, but now it’s what I read most.
What are your hopes as a deacon?
My hopes are to continue to serve the Church as best I can. I’m hoping to give my life to the Church. I was asked once, “What if you have to give your life for the Church?” Then I will give my life for the Church!
Please pray for Roberto and his wife, Lupe.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.