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LOWELL -- Margarita Reyes has seen God acting in her life.
A native of Puerto Rico, Reyes came to Massachusetts in 1982, together with her husband, Angel Reyes, and her three children. Originally a parishioner at Nuestra Senora del Carmen Parish, which closed during parish reconfiguration, she is currently a parishioner at St. Patrick’s in Lowell.
“I have always been Catholic, but I was not very involved in my faith when I was younger,” Reyes, 59, said.
That all changed in 1988, when Reyes began to view her faith not as something external, but as something she could rely on for support in her everyday life.
“It was then that I realized that if I got to know Jesus, he would be the one who gives us the strength to move forward in our lives, with whatever problems we have to face,” she explained.
Seeking to deepen her faith, she began adult religious education classes and was confirmed in 1988. One year later, she and her husband, who had been civilly married since 1967, had their marriage blessed in the Catholic Church.
One thing nagged her, though her husband was not baptized.
Then five years ago, her prayers were answered. Her husband entered the RCIA program at St. Patrick’s, and at the Easter Vigil in 2003, he was baptized.
“Father Diego [Father James Taggert] would say, ‘Be patient. God will touch him.’ And he has, but I had to wait,” she said, “Do you know how long I had to wait? Almost 34 years I had to wait!”
Today the couple attends Mass together each week, something she still thanks God for every day. In addition, Reyes is a kindergarten religious education teacher, an extraordinary minister of Communion and a lector. She also helps the parish out manning a kiosk during city festivals, such as the Puerto Rican Festival, selling goods to raise money for the parish.
For the past three years, she has also been involved in prison ministry, going every week with Sister Luzelana Vera and other volunteers to participate in a prayer service at a nearby prison.
“I love that ministry,” said Reyes. “It brings God to people who have made mistakes in their lives, but it helps them to see that God is there for them, that God loves them.”
Reyes praised Father Taggert for his “total devotion” to the parish.
“I’ve been involved in a few parishes, and have worked with several pastors, but I have to say that Father Diego is marvelous. He really gives himself entirely to his parishioners,” she said.
According to Reyes, Father Taggert, Sister Luzelana and Sister Angela “are an inspiration for parishioners to get involved in the parish.”