The Reverend Roberto Guerrero, or Father Bob, as we called him, was called home to be with our Lord this last Sunday, May 4, 2014. He would have been 53 on the 18th of this month. I saw him for the last time at our Chrism Mass, the Tuesday of Holy Week this year, and only had the opportunity to talk with him briefly. He mentioned he was going in for surgery on his stomach on Saturday May 3rd, but didn't seem too worried about it. That would be just like Fr. Bob, not worried because he had already been through so much (health wise). I found out later, that after the surgery, he simply never woke up from the anesthesia and passed from this life to the next on Sunday.
Father Bob was my pastor at St. Frances of Rome for a number of years, long before I was ordained, but we talked about the call many times. Father had a way of taking care of his flock. He was always at the various ministry meetings, always walking around the church grounds during the festivals and special occasions with his cowboy hat and boots, and his clericals always cleaned and pressed. Yes, he had his faults, we all do, and Father had a hard battle against the bottle, which he won after much work. He loved his parents very much and when his Mom died, he took it hard. His Dad had passed many years before his Mom, so in a certain way, Father Bob felt alone in his world.
We have always tried to make our priests feel that they are part of our family. We have invited more than one priest to accompany us on family vacations to Mexico on various occasions. Father Bob went with us a number of times to Mexico. We took him to Martha's hometown of Cotija, Michoacan where we presented him to the Parochial Vicar, who invited him to assist in a Mass that afternoon. Father was expecting a couple of Altar Servers and maybe another priest, what he got was about 8 Altar Servers and 6 priests concelebrating! They paid him 50 pesos for his help and Father got the biggest kick out of that, he also help at a number of other Masses during the week. We also taught Father how to ride a scooter that week too. He discovered Mexican paletas (ice cream) there too. Imagine our surprise when one afternoon we spied Father Bob riding the scooter down the street with an ice cream in BOTH HANDS! he said he couldn't get enough. Of course, later that evening, when his stomach started to "turn" because of all he had eaten that day, I introduced him to a Japanese Powder (antacid powder) where you put it on your tongue and then drink water to swallow the powder. Father Bob wasn't ready for the strong ginger taste of the powder and he blew it out of his mouth in disgust. It was a very funny scene!
He also went with us to Puerto Vallarta and we put him in the parasailing rig at the beach. I remember the look of sheer terror on his face as he took off into the air while being pulled by the boat. We introduced him to scuba diving at Cabo San Lucas, but he couldn't get the hang of it and went back into the boat after a short time.
We continued to keep in touch with Father Bob well after he left our community in order to pastor elsewhere in the Diocese. He was a loving soul and truly wanted to see the best in his parishioners and the community in general. He will be greatly missed. Our loss is Heaven's gain. Rest in Peace Father, we will see each other again one day. +