Role Models, Mentors and Beacons of Hope
This married couple has made an impact on tens of thousands
2013 Lumen Christ Award Recipients
José and Digna R. López
Diocese of Stockton, California
For the past 25 years, one couple has dedicated their lives to being the Light of Christ to Latinos in California’s Central Valley. Through leadership, guidance, personal example and unwavering commitment, José and Digna R. López have served as role models, mentors and beacons of hope to tens of thousands. They have touched the lives of virtually everyone in the Diocese of Stockton, including migrant workers, youth, parish priests and parish volunteer ministry teams. Both are nationally recognized for their leadership and sought after for their expertise in migrant ministry – all while operating on a shoestring budget in a mission diocese.
Catholic Extension is proud to announce that José and Digna R. López are the recipients of the 2013 Lumen Christi Award. For the past 36 years, the Lumen Christi (Latin for “light of Christ”) Award has been presented to an individual or group who has demonstrated how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. José and Digna are the second married couple to receive the Lumen Christi Award.
The Diocese of Stockton is home to migrant workers and a growing, youthful Latino population. José and Digna have a deep understanding and a special ability to connect with these groups. Both came to the U.S. from Mexico – Digna came to attend college, and José arrived as a child with his migrant parents.
José began his ministry at age 15 when he answered 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 in Turlock, where she volunteered serving the Hispanic community and the homeless. When José and Digna married in 1991, they united their shared enthusiasm for evangelization.
Today, José is the Diocese of Stockton’s director of Hispanic youth and young adults, and Digna serves as director of Hispanic ministry. The breadth and depth of their work is impressive. They train and support more than 15,000 people annually. “Our goal is to multiply,” said Digna.
José and Digna are keenly aware of the challenges facing young people in the diocese, so they have been involved in special programs that give them alternatives to lives of drugs and violence. They also serve as visible advocates for these youth and for migrant workers, making sure their voices are heard.
While they work tirelessly to connect people more deeply to the Church, José and Digna take the long view about tending faith. They motivate by example, they advocate for systemic change, and they serve as organizers – from retreats for young people, to Stockton’s annual Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration, which draws 15,000 people and requires 300 volunteers.
José and Digna, who have raised three children while selflessly serving the diocese, truly are outstanding examples of Catholic Extension’s mission. They are building faith where it is needed most, and transforming the lives of individuals, families, parishes and society.