(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles profiling the priests who have new assignments this year in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.)
WENDOVER — Father Marco Tulio López has been appointed as the new pastor of San Felipe Catholic Church in Wendover.
Fr. López arrived in Utah on July 1, 2008 from the Diocese of San Vicente in El Salvador, and was appointed associate pastor of Saint Mary of the Assumption in Park City. Before coming to Utah, Fr. López worked for several years in the Diocese of Tyler, in Texas. His work as a priest has included close involvement with the Hispanic community, teaching Scripture, family formation and catechesis.
In this new path of his priesthood life, his mission "will be the same; continue providing ministry to the community," Fr. López said. He also plans to continue the work that previous pastors have done at San Felipe Parish.
"This parish is relatively new [it will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year] and it’s important to keep with the work that has been happening here," Fr. López said. "Right now I am in the process of getting to know the community."
Fr. López recalled with great joy and tenderness when he arrived at his first assignment in Park City.
"I was a little scared because I knew that the Anglo community is the majority in this specific parish [St. Mary’s], but to my surprise I had a very warm welcome," he said.
He attributes part of this welcome to Monsignor Robert Bussen, then the parish’s pastor, who introduced him and let him participate in both the Anglo and Hispanic Catholic communities.
"I discovered that the Anglo community are people of great heart, and they are very open minded. They are very generous and always available to welcome the Hispanic priests," said Fr. López. "With the Hispanics my experience was also very interesting. I find that the Hispanics here in Utah are different from the ones in Texas" because they’re from different regions of Mexico.
Fr. López worked hard to get to know the community better, he said. "This process was very deep and that’s why we were able to do very hard work in pastoral work, in spiritual and theological formation and catechesis."
During his years in Park City, a Spanish Mass started in Heber, and the catechesis had a great impact in Heber as well as in Park City, he said. "We also were able to reach people in Colby, and we celebrated Mass there once a month."
Fr. López was ordained a priest on Dec. 20, 1997 in El Salvador by the Most Rev. José Oscar Barahona, Bishop of San Vicente, El Salvador.
His call to the priesthood he defines as a mystery because when he was younger, "I didn’t even like to go to Mass," Fr. López said. "I started discovering my call when I started participating in a youth group."
Now, he has a deep love for God and for the Church, he said, and "it is this love that keeps me in the priesthood. I do not think the priesthood is a profession; I think of it as an apostolate."
In his new assignment in Wendover Fr. López has shared with the community his love of the Church and God. "This is my community and all my heart, mind and presence is here in this new parish," he said.