Priest Hosts Small Birthday Fundraiser, Gets Big Surprise

March 09, 2019

Fr. Mariano H. López, a millennial, is no stranger to social media so when Facebook suggested he host a fundraiser in honor of his birthday, he gave it a try. He had seen many people throw fundraisers for different causes and he started to think about the greater financial needs for seminarians. His brother priest, Fr. Ben Flores, VG, suggested he try it for St. Charles Seminary because Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services had done something similar with success. But Fr. Mariano, the rector of St. Charles Seminary, felt that giving to the Foundation’s endowment program was key because the gifts are permanent and perpetual. Rather than focus on the monetary gifts, although fundraising is essential to the mission, Fr. Mariano decided to put on a fundraiser for the Seminarian Education Endowment Fund as a symbolic gesture to create awareness. Fr. Mariano said, “I think we need to think long term. Whatever needs we have right now will be greater in the future if we don’t prepare. Foundation gifts keep on giving.”

Fr. Mariano set the fundraising goal at $200 based on the suggestion made by Facebook and thought that was a stretch. Again, he just wanted to remind people about an important cause. In the end, Fr. Mariano raised $42,298 for the Seminarian Education Endowment Fund. He said he never even expected to make his goal and that the end result was both surprising and inspiring. “I think people were happy to support seminarians and to support me in that effort. I have been blessed in meeting so many awesome people and they were excited to walk with me on this journey to help vocation efforts and seminary formation. Many of our benefactors have gotten to know seminarians and they know that to help the Foundation is to help these guys and others who will follow.”

Fr. Mariano H. López was ordained to the Priesthood in 2011 and appointed rector of St. Charles Seminary in July, 2015 by Bishop Mark J. Seitz. There are 26 seminarians in formation, a 160% increase from 2008, and more seminarians beginning formation next fall. The fund value of the Seminarian Education Endowment Fund is $2 million and the short-term goal is to get that to $5 million to generate a $200,000 annual distribution to educate the future leadership of the Diocese of El Paso.

Fr. Mariano asks that you pray for seminarians, help sponsor their education through different fundraising efforts, whatever and wherever the Lord inspires you, get to know the men in formation, and visit St. Charles Seminary for the monthly Mass with the Friends of St. Charles. Upcoming Masses will be held in the St. Charles Chapel at 9am on March 30, April 27, and June 29. Mass is followed by breakfast and fellowship. The Mass on May 17 will be celebrated in the evening at 6pm. Join St. Charles Seminary for San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Vocation Mass & Eucharistic Adoration at St. Patrick Cathedral at 6:30pm on April 5, May 3, June 7, and July 5.

“I am grateful to God for helping me serve His people, as I know that the men that I work with may eventually work with God’s people as priests. I can remind the guys of certain values that are important to always keep in mind as they prepare to serve His people. In the end, I know the seminarians will take their own path, but I have a chance to speak to them on behalf of the Church, including our laity from all walks of life.”

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