Para español clic: ¡Gracias, Padre Sergio!
By AnaMaria Bech
After leading the Hispanic Apostolate ministry for over ten years, Friar Sergio Serrano, O.P., leaves Louisiana to carry out a new mission in Orlando, Florida.
On July 4, Serrano took advantage of the move to enjoy one of his passions: traveling on his motorcycle. “I’ll be doing 1,100 miles. I chose that date because I love the United States, and I arrived here in the United States on a Marian feast on July 16.”
Since he was a child, he wanted to be a priest. Still, his path was not a straight line.“I wanted to learn about music, the military, motorcycles, girls, everything. So I learned music, did other services, and entered religious life. It didn’t go very well, left, and then I came back”, he said. But his taste for challenges, scuba diving, motorcycle racing, and extreme sports, including skydiving, motorcycle racing, and traveling, remain.
The journey to Florida will be one of the first trips he will make in his new job as a fundraiser for an organization of bishops.”The order has requested that the Dominicans work a little more for the poor. Every weekend, I will travel to a different church nationwide, talking about this agency to get people to donate.”
Since his ordination on June 9, 2007, Serrano has had multiple assignments in various locations. In all, his mission has been to rebuild.“The reconstruction process is encouraging because it helps me understand that I am in that plan of redemption where a God rebuilds a fallen humankind, revives it all the time, and makes it better. So when they send me to a place with the challenge to rebuild, I am very happy; I love it”.
In 2006 he came to New Orleans to rebuild the faith and churches destroyed or scattered by Hurricane Katrina. “Everyone was displaced, and the provincial told me that he saw in me the ability to rebuild, to build a community.” He worked in St. Dominic for three and a half years. He then traveled to Ecuador, where he raised more than 1 million dollars for the poorest church in the city, a monument that needed restoration. He went to Miami for six months and returned to New Orleans to rebuild the Blessed Seelos Parish, where he spent a year cleaning, fixing, and building. When it was ready, he was assigned to Memphis, Tennessee, but the archbishop requested him to stay in New Orleans. He remained the director of the Center of Jesus the Lord, which would relocate, and at the same time, worked in the Hispanic Apostolate to see if he could recover it.
“I said I am not going anywhere to close. I’ve gone everywhere to open and rebuild.” Since May 13, 2013, he has been working in the Hispanic Apostolate.” Another Marian feast,” he emphasizes.
He recovered and strengthened the Hispanic Apostolate. They restructured and expanded its various programs, provided support after multiple hurricanes, gave visibility to the community’s economic needs, and made alliances with numerous entities. Serrano was integral in educational and communication efforts during a global pandemic, a desperate time, especially for immigrants with language barriers and away from loved ones. Apart from these initiatives, he also arranged for the arrival of eight priests and seminarians to serve a community short of Hispanic priests. The volunteer base he leaves counts with over 300 members ready to help.
New Orleans has given Serrano many life lessons that have helped him grow. “I feel extremely blessed because I have great friends in New Orleans; I have people I can call my family today.”
He will take from this city all the love and support that they have given him. He confesses he will miss the oysters he loves, along with gumbo, jambalaya, and lobsters. “I’ll take a little water from the Mississippi; as they say, whoever drinks water from the Mississippi will return.”
As for what he leaves behind, his legacy has been showing that Hispanics can improve this country. “We have a lot of talent and potential because we are resourceful, have lived with little, and know how to make a lot from a little bit. So coming to this country and multiplying what it offers and taking our talents to make it better. And most importantly, knowing that none of this is possible if we do not have God in our hearts.”