Paul Estavillo has been on the job for less than a week, but already is bursting with ideas for engaging young people throughout the Diocese of Gallup in their Catholic faith. Mr. Estavillo, whose official title is “Youth Evangelization and Catechetical Coordinator”, is now in charge of youth ministry for the Diocese.
“I coordinate mission groups in the Diocese,” said Estavillo, referring to the many youth groups who come from churches throughout the country to volunteer their time with projects such as landscaping, renovation, and assisting at shelters and homes. “There are also several things I want to do over the next year or so – what interests me is developing a couple Newman Centers in small colleges in the Diocese and establishing social clubs for young people. I also really want to try to get fundraising for the next World Youth Day, as soon as the Pope announces the location, and send a group from the whole Diocese.”
Estavillo is no stranger to working with young people. After serving in the Air Force for four years, and moving on to a career working in marketing computer chips in California for 25 years, he became a teacher in 2002. Two years ago, he moved to Gallup to teach archaeology and religion at Gallup Catholic School.
“I wanted to teach at a mission school,” Estavillo said. “I had one job offer in Denver, one in California, and one in Gallup. I was going to go to Denver, but [Gallup Catholic principal] Barbara Kozeliski was very determined to hire me.”
Estavillo explains that he felt he was called to come to New Mexico.
“I was in Spain, at World Youth Day, and talking to Barbara. She told me to pray on it. So I went into the cathedral there, and felt like the Holy Spirit was leading me this way,” he explains. “Part of it was also that my dad was raised in New Mexico and my mom in Arizona.”
After Gallup Catholic High School closed in 2013, Estavillo had planned to teach at St. Michaels, but was convinced to interview for the job with the Diocese by Fr. Matthew Keller, now the rector at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
“Fr. Matthew coordinated all the mission groups before becoming rector, and I had helped out with some of them last summer,” Estavillo said. “Also, I have a background in RCIA, and experience working with young people, so I was asked to interview for the job. I feel now like this is my vocation – to do God’s work here.”
Estavillo said he looks forward to meeting people from the many cultural backgrounds found throughout the Diocese.
“My dad’s family is complete Basque – sheepherders from New Mexico, and my mom’s family is Mexican, Apache and German,” said Estavillo. “So my background is of one growing up with Hispanic people. One culture that’s [new] to me is the Navajo culture, but I’m very excited to learn more.”
Asked what his biggest impression is of the Diocese after two years, Estavillo immediately responds.
“The people,” he says. “All the clerics, religious, and laypeople involved in this Diocese – they all work for the love of the Church. And it’s a very welcoming environment.”
With a grin, he offers one final thought.
“Also, I like the red chile far better than green chile.”
In 1979 we were living in Las Vegas, Nevada. During the summer we had a seminarian intern at our parish. He had been a gang banger then came the call to the priesthood. After each mass he was mobbed by the youth of the parish. Just some food for thought.
Yes indeed and as we build interest in the youth in our diocese and we will increase vocations. Lawrence please give me a call at the Chancery: (505) 863-4406.