José and Digna López - 2013 Lumen Christi Award Finalists

Diocese of Stockton, California

They Foster New Leaders Through Their Example

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For the past 25 years, one couple has dedicated their lives to delivering the Light of Christ to the Latino people in Stockton, California. Through leadership, guidance, and personal example, both José and Digna López have made a difference in their community, brought thousands of youth together, and personally affected virtually every person in their diocese.

With 60% of their diocese of Hispanic descent—and more than half of that under the age 25—their ministry focuses primarily on Latino youth. In an area where drugs and gang activity are a daily reality, they give the youth of their diocese a different, more spiritual option. With an abundance of joy, love, and faith, they have devoted their lives to shaping the youth culture throughout their community by creating a personal bond with every person they come across.

José López’s ministry started when he was 15 years old, answering the call from his pastor to do parish ministry while also working in the agricultural fields. Digna began her service to Christ as a student at California State University at Turlock, when she volunteered at both El Consilio, a center to help coordinate responses to Hispanic needs, and St. Mary’s Interfaith Dining Room, the Stockton center for the homeless. 

José is now the director of Hispanic Youth and Young Adults and the director of the Diocesan Migrant Ministry Team in Stockton, helping build teams to train Hispanic youth ministers and influencing faith formation by leading bible study courses and the Annual Youth Congress. Digna is the current Diocesan Director of Apostolado Hispano, coordinating ministry training for emerging and young leaders in the Hispanic community while also addressing the complex needs of a growing Hispanic population within local churches.

“Individually and together, they have been the Light of Christ directly to our Latino people, including migrants, youth, young adults, parish priests and parish volunteer ministry teams,” said Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire, Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton.

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