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†† PARISH LIFE

burst into tears. I pray our work with him in prison made even a small difference in his life,” she said. A licensed counselor and veteran of the United States Army, Nick Cardenas had previous experience working with prisoners through his professional work at Beeville’s local community college. Adding prison visits from the church was an easy fit. Even a diagnosis of prostate cancer soon after the prison ministry program started in 1994 did not stop Nick. While he was recovering from surgery and treatments, his wife Oralia stepped in and filled his role. Once he recovered, she loved the prison ministry and added it to the long list of other volunteer roles she fills with the church. “In addition to assisting our priest with Mass, I would sing with the prisoners, we’d share funny stories and talk about God,” recalled Oralia. “But after 24 years, we decided it was time to retire and last December we handed over the ministry to other volunteers.”

Oralia Cardenas, 78, regretfully admitted the ministry simply became too physically demanding. And her husband Nick, 77, works a full-time job in Karnes City as a case manager, so time is a precious commodity for both. The couple recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and family life also keeps them busy with two children, nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Each has multiple volunteer roles at Our Lady of Victory, with Nick serving as a lector, Extradordinary Minister of Holy Communion, parish council member, president of the finance committee and working bingo every Thursday at the parish. Oralia is a fixture in the parish office handling administrative duties two days a week and serving as a sacristan, while also directing the children’s and adult choirs. “Yes, we are pretty much always at church,” laughed Oralia. “But we wouldn’t have it any other way.” Father Luke Thirunelliparambil, the

pastor at Our Lady of Victory in Beeville, said he’s amazed by the couple’s energy, which has never wavered throughout the 14 years he has known them. “They are involved in just about every church activity we have. I consider Nick and Oralia pillars of our church community. Being members of this church so long, everyone knows them and the good deeds they do,” he said. Nick hopes to inspire younger generations to volunteer at least one hour a week at their local parish. He thinks if they start small, it will open up other avenues for volunteerism. “I’d like to ask our youth to consider what you are doing for your fellow man. What are you doing for other people, not just for yourself,” he said. “I’d also like to remind parents, your children learn by example. It’s important for children to see their parents helping others, caring for people. Serving others has to come from your heart and with guidance from the Holy Spirit.”

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Profile for South Texas Catholic

June 2018 - Vol.53 No.6  

In our June issue, we feature Nick and Oralia Cardenas, longtime parishioners from Our Lady of Victory in Beeville, who have dedicated 24 ye...

June 2018 - Vol.53 No.6  

In our June issue, we feature Nick and Oralia Cardenas, longtime parishioners from Our Lady of Victory in Beeville, who have dedicated 24 ye...

Profile for diocesecc