by Gordon Nary
My name is Fray Tobias Macias Martinez OSM. I was born in Ojuelos Jalisco Mexico on May 28th 1966.
Gordon: Why did you decide to be a priest?
Fr. Tobias: First of all I did not want to be a priest and not even a Servite because I didn’t know about them.
This happen after I was at the, minor seminary in 1983 when I started High School because the University of Guanajuato gave me a Scholarship. I entered the minor seminary taking the opportunity of the scholarship without the intent of becoming a Servite. After high school I went to the novitiate to Aguascalientes to know about the Servants of Mary after this year is when I decided that I wanted to become a Friar Servant of Mary.
Gordon: What was your parent’s response when you told them that you wanted to be a priest?
Fr. Tobias: When I told my parents that I wanted to become a priest they told me I was crazy and stubborn. That priesthood was for good kids that prayed a lot and I was the contrary. My mom told me that they were going to kick me out immediately and that they expected me to be back home in a month. But this never happened.
Gordon: Why did you decide to be a Servite?
Fr. Tobias: Because I wanted to serve people in need. Poor people and maybe go on a mission.
Gordon: Please explain the history of St. Peregrine and the Servites?
Fr. Tobias: For me the history of St. Peregrine is one of my favorites because he was a young crazy, stubborn and revel kind of like me. He would go and protest even against the church looking for justice and peace. He was aware of the people’s needs and fought for them. I like specially the episode of his life when he met St. Philip and he beat him up physically. St Philp was sent to Forli to make peace and St. Peregrine in a protest confronted him. During his process of conversion he requested to join the community and was greeted by St. Philip himself the one he had fought during the protest. St. Peregrine as an offering and penance to our Lord promises not to ever sit down and that’s how he got gangrene in his leg and he was going to have a surgery but the night before he dragged himself to the chapters living room and in front of a cross he asked the Lord to cure him and he sees Jesus come down the cross and healed his leg. After this miracle he is considered the patron of cancer and other deceases. This is mainly why I identify with him in my personal life.
Gordon: What was your first assignment and did you learn there?
Fr. Tobias My first assignment was at a formation house in Xochimilco Mexico DF. I was assigned there as an economy administrator and I learned to be a like a mom and dad for the new students to provide for them food, shelter and all they needed on a daily basis as a formation house work that I did for more than 15 years at different formation communities in Mexico, Colombia and Africa.
Gordon: How are you helping undocumented immigrants as pastor of St. Ignatius parish in El Paso TX?
Fr. Tobias I think it’s been a great experience in my life since I got to St. Ignatius we opened as a shelter for immigrants. After ICE releases them, they get here and are greeted, we provide food, clothes and basic necessities, in the process we contact their families and provide transportation for them. They go with their families and await a date in an immigration court. All this thanks to the collaboration of the people of St. Ignatius.
Gordon: What recommendation would you make to the Biden administration to address the needs of immigrants?
Fr. Tobias We are actually living this situation all around the world like injustice, violence, corruption. This situation is a matter of preoccupation at all levels of society especially for the church. We must work together as children of the Lord for this reason. I simply say that we must welcome them and not separate families and to remember that we are all immigrants in this world. By doing this, we are honoring the words of Jesus, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Mt. 25,35
Gordon: What impact has the Covid pandemic has in El Paso?
As everywhere else the impact has been huge being a border city the movement of workers and tourism decreased considerably and many businesses were closed. At a point we were considered one of the state’s worst hot spots as of today with 2316 deaths. Things are starting to get better little by little. Right now El Paso County is already in the vaccination process.
Gordon: Thank you for this exceptional insightful interview.