Rev. Jose Luis Garayoa, Pastor of Little Flower | Photo courtesy Diocese of El Paso
Wednesday morning, the Diocese of El Paso announced that 68-year-old Reverend Jose Luis Garayoa, OAR, Pastor of Little Flower parish in the Mission Valley of El Paso, has died from complications due to COVID-19.
Rev. Garayoa is originally from Spain and is a member of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects. He was ordained to the priesthood in July of 1976 and has served in various dioceses worldwide, including years of mission work in Sierra Leone, Africa and more recently in the Diocese of Las Cruces and the Diocese of El Paso.
In 2018, Bishop Mark Seitz named him Pastor at his most recent assignment at Little Flower. Rev. Garayoa was a fervent believer and humanitarian who ministered to the poor all over the world throughout his priestly ministry.
Garayoa, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 around a week ago, died in the Augustinian Recollect’s community home located near the Parish of Guardian Angel on Tuesday November 24, 2020.
Officials with the Diocese add that the community home houses two other priests of the Order of Augustinian Recollects who have also been diagnosed with COVID-19, one of whom is asymptomatic and the other is presently in stable condition.
Bishop Mark Seitz issued the following statement:
I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass at Little Flower parish this last weekend to fill in while Fr. Jose Luis Garayoa was recuperating (as we hoped) from COVID. When I visit a parish, I can always very quickly get a sense of how a parish community feels about its pastor.
Upon visiting Little Flower, immediately I could see that this parish family belonged to their “Father”. They loved being his, even if at times just like any father, he made them uncomfortable or got on their nerves.
On my recent visit to his parish one of the many committed parishioners had a very good analogy when describing Fr. Jose Luis. This parishioner said he had noticed that different priests reflect different aspects of Jesus’ personality.
Fr. Garayoa reflected the Jesus who overturned the money-changer’s tables. Well said! He was a powerful personality. The force of his character made the rest of the people in a room orbit around him, and they were better for having been captured by the force of his gravity!
Fr. Jose Luis feared nothing and no one. He was a man who had seen it all! Once in Sierra Leone where he had also served for many years he had been kidnapped and held hostage. A gun had been held to his head and the trigger was pulled, but the gun malfunctioned. After that experience nothing could intimidate him! His life belonged to his people and the love they shared was
Fr. Jose Luis Garayoa will never be replaced, but we will trust the Lord who made him and was so clearly revealed through him, to care for His faithful servant as well as for the bereft family he leaves behind.
Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz
Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso