Quilmes, Argentina, (CNA) – Luis Avagliano served as a permanent deacon for 27 years, but after the death of his wife almost seven years ago he felt God’s call to be “the father of many more children”, and was ordained a priest March 19.
The newly ordained priest, 68, was married for 38 years to Flora, who died in 2014. The couple had two children, both of whom attended the ordination Mass celebrated by Bishop Carlos José Tissera of Quilmes.
The ordination took place at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish, where Fr. Avagliano had served as a deacon and is now assigned as a priest.
Speaking to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, the priest said that his ordination Mass was “a profound and moving ceremony from beginning to end” and it was a “powerful” experience to be ordained to the priesthood.
Attending the Mass were Fr. Avagliano’s two children, who supported his decision to become a priest when he told them about it almost two years ago.
The priest said he was always close to God growing up with his two sisters in a strong Catholic family in Buenos Aires’ La Boca neighborhood. He said that his parents gave him the love and care that served as an example for him when he began his own family.
One of the most difficult experiences for Fr. Avagliano was when he was 15 years old his father died, and three and a half months later his older sister died as well. He said that faith in God and his mother’s closeness to him and his other sister allowed them to carry on.
“God never abandoned me, he gave me strength to help and support my mother. The faith of my mother and in her company … with her faith we carried on. We never stopped trusting in God. His strength cannot be explained, you feel it and experience it,” he said.
The priest said his mother handed on that faith to him ever since he was a child, because she always took him to Mass at Saint John the Evangelist parish, where he received the initial sacraments, was confirmed, and later got married and had his children baptized there.
Luis Avagliano and Flora dated four years before they got married when he was 23. He and his wife served as catechists in various parishes. His home was always blessed with food on the table, prayer, and attendance at Mass every weekend. He went to daily Mass as often as he could, but sometimes that was difficult because of his work.
After finishing school, Avagliano worked for almost 48 years, mostly as a public servant, and retired in 2020. During much of this time he served as a deacon in his diocese.
The priest received his diaconate formation in the diocesan deacon training program while he was studying law. However, at the end of the first two years at the university, he felt a desire to provide greater service to the Church and ended his law studies.
“I realized at the end of that second year that my strong points were with the Church rather than the legal profession, so I dedicated myself completely to the Church. I studied for six years and then was ordained a deacon on December 12, 1993.”
In addition to the diaconate and responsibilities at work, Avagliano dedicated his life to caring for his family. Together they were “a very close family, very loving, we all got along very well. Fortunately, we prayed and always had the Word of the Lord, the accompaniment of God that guided us in every undertaking,” he added.
For Fr. Avagliano “the gift of married life is beautiful. You train up your children so they too get to know and internalize the Catholic faith, the Holy Trinity and the love of the Virgin Mary. We are always accompanied” on the journey.
The new priest said he always felt “a very strong call from God” and that “that love was penetrating my heart and was leading and enlightening me,” until one day, after the death of his wife and a couple of years of discernment, “the call to the priestly vocation became a reality.”
During the ordination Mass, Bishop Tissera told Fr. Avagliano that “it is not by chance that your ordination is on the day of Saint Joseph,” because “like him you have experienced the beauty of love as a couple, the experience of marriage, the joy of being a dad; the responsibility of forming a home, the joy of expecting your children and their birth; the incomparable joy of the first babblings of a baby looking into your eyes and saying the most wonderful word: daddy.”
“You have felt in your heart and on your back the responsibility of providing for your family life with your work and ensuring their education; you have also suffered the heartbreak of the death of your wife and your beloved grandson; also your consecration to God in the diaconate. In so many things you are like Joseph,” the bishop noted.
Fr. Avagliano said that the fact that God has called him to live out both vocations is a great commission and a great blessing that he takes up with joy. “I am grateful [to God] for believing in me and having confidence in me,” he said, and stressed that “everything that you receive from God, you cannot but give back to him.”