St. John Paul II Parish Initial Plans
Prepared by Fr. Enrique Lopez-Escalera, Pastor
May all our efforts be for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of souls. Bishop Oscar Cantú, in consultation with the Presbyteral Council and others, decided to establish a new parish under the heavenly patronage of St. John Paul II. He named me as the pastor effective on July 1, 2014. I undertake this new pastoral assignment with gratitude in my heart and with the humble supplication to Almighty God, to the holy Mother of God, to St. John Paul II, to St. Michael the Archangel, and the entire heavenly host of Angels and Saints that they bless and accompany this work.
For the last several years local parishioners with the assistance and encouragement of priests assigned to San Martin de Porres parish in Sunland Park have desired and worked for the establishment of a new parish in the Santa Teresa area. Santa Teresa has experienced tremendous growth and all demographic indicators show that it will continue to grow. At different times parishioners had gathered for the celebration of holy Mass on Sundays and have engaged in various forms of fundraising. These efforts resulted in the accruement of a fund held in the diocesan PIP account for the amount of $150,000.00. I have not disposed of any monies from that fund. I want to establish the various committees for the parish, especially a Finance Council, in order to seek their advice in the administration of the parish and particularly in regard to said savings. My disposition is to be respectful for what has been accomplished and to move forward with renewed vigor and clear vision. The fact that the diocesan bishop has established a parish – with the stability provided by law – and has provided for the pastoral care of souls and the administration of temporal goods through the appointment of a pastor is a clear sign of the commitment and support for this new parish.
The long-term vision is to establish a parish with full services in the Santa Teresa area. The boundary of the parish is specified in the canonical Decree of Erection. The plan is to procure a 20-acre site that will include the following structures: parish church, parish hall, rectory, and parish school. These various buildings represent stages in the development of the parish with priority given to the building of the parish church.
The Pastor, Fr. Enrique Lopez-Escalera was born on March 29, 1965 in El Paso, Texas. His parents are the late Ernesto Lopez and Clementina Escalera. He graduated from Gadsden High School in 1983. He entered seminary formation with the Diocese of Las Cruces in 1985 at the House of Formation in Las Cruces while attending NMSU. Bishop Ricardo Ramírez transferred him in 1987 to IHM Seminary in Santa Fe, where he graduated from the College of Santa Fe in 1989 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies.
He was sent to the Pontifical North American in Rome to pursue his theological formation. He attended the Pontifical Gregorian University where he earned a Master’s Degree in Theology and a Licentiate in Spiritual Theology. He also attended the Pontifical University of St. Thomas where he earned a Licentiate in Canon Law. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 31, 1993.
Fr. Enrique has served as Vocations Director and Tribunal Judge; he has also served on various committees of the diocese including the Presbyteral Council, Personnel Board and is a member of the College of Consultors. He has served in several parishes: Holy Cross, Santa Rosa de Lima, Our Lord of Mercy, Holy Family, and St. Ann. He is also involved in spiritual direction and in giving conferences and leading retreats. Bishop Cantú has appointed Fr. Enrique as the Vicar for Evangelization as well as the new Pastor of St. John Paul II Parish.