Father Miguel Martinez Figueroa (Archdiocese of Chicago '01), Santa Maria del Popolo, Mundelein, IL
Submitted by: Bill and Marie Aquino
When the decision was made to shut down live liturgical services, Father Miguel shared the news to parishioners through social media. We had mass live-streamed that weekend of March 16 through Facebook. Since then, we were connected through his daily share on significance of church icons; stations of the Cross were live-streamed (all these happened in Lent). Prayers were done bi-lingual. He engaged the community and reminded us of our duties to our parish. He engaged volunteers to help in beautification of the altar as livestreaming continued. All significant church events were celebrated from an Easter vigil mass; May crowning; Pentecost with beautiful church decorations. As we transitioned to re-openning, he was zealous and at the same time safe. We had Town Hall meetings to address concerns/questions. He followed all guidelines put forth by the diocese as we continued to re-open and has successfully strengthened our community even providing funerals; First communion; baptisms; weddings; Confirmation for children and RCIA candidates and funerals. All these he did gently and prayerfully. (Parish website).
Father Miguel brings us closer to Jesus and Mary through prayers. He does this gently and prayerfully.
Together with Father O'Reilly, he leads our bi-lingual parish.
He knows the spiritual needs of our parishioners and never neglected the physical needs of the community. Our Saint Vincent de Paul pantry continued to operate amidst the pandemic.
He addresses each parishioner lovingly and personally. He speaks to all parishioners with regard bi-lingually.
He establishes relationships with people around him. I have seen him offer mass for parishioners from his previous parishes.
He supports education as well. Our deacon, now Father Jimenez even celebrated his 1st mass with us. Our seminarian, now Deacon Leo has been a good model of humility and faith through him.
Father Miguel never waivered amidst the pandemic. He continues to do God's will daily. I could sense it in my conversations with him. He does all prayerfully and gently. He could be stressed and busy but he always has time for his vocation as priest, our father. He is zealous in doing all for the parish - from connecting to all parishioners and their families to addressing the environmental needs of our parish. He has always followed the guidelines put forth by the Archdiocese and has continued to safely follow all re-openning guidelines while bringing us all safely to all the sacraments. He is an open book to all ( sharing any news from the diocese), uniting all parishioners ( offering bi-lingual masses) and leading us to Christ safely amidst the pandemic.