As it celebrated its 15th year in 2018, Centro San Juan Diego, brought on a new, young director to its archdiocesan organization. Juan Carlos Reyes had worked for Centro San Juan Diego (CSJD) since 2012, so his promotion to director of the organization in March 2018 was not a surprise.
Unfortunately, the young, aspirational director passed away on March 20th, one year into his tenure as director of CSJD after battling an illness that took his life at age 33.
“Juan Carlos has been an incredible blessing to the Archdiocese of Denver these past years. He was a beloved son who loved our Lord, his family and his ministry,” said Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in his announcement of Reyes’ passing. “Even in the midst of his intense suffering these past weeks, he was a man of deep faith and remained a dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ.”
Hailing from Michoacán, Mexico, Reyes came to the United States at a young age. Here he completed his secondary studies and, thanks to a partnership between the Anáhuac University in Mexico City and Centro San Juan Diego, obtained his bachelor’s degree in religious sciences.
In fact, Centro San Juan Diego played a large role in Reyes’ development, something for which he claimed to always be grateful.
“I, in many ways, consider myself to be a product of CSJD,” Reyes said in a June 2018 interview with Denver Catholic, as he was stepping into his directorial role. “I started coming to CSJD for faith formation when I was a teen until I eventually received my formal education through CSJD. CSJD not only told me that I was capable of doing great things for others and that I had potential to develop, but also gave me the tools and formation to be able to do it.”
Among his goals while serving as director of CSJD were more forms of outreach to areas outside of metro Denver - particularly on the Western Slope - and to prepare young immigrant and U.S.-born Hispanics for adapting to the “American Dream.”
“The generation of U.S. born Hispanics are a facing a number of ‘adversities’, many times unknown to them and to their parents, that make it near impossible for them to fully develop their potential and truly live out the American Dream of becoming or doing anything you set yourself to,” Reyes said in a March 2018 interview. “I humbly believe that CSJD’s next chapter is to take a holistic approach to the family, to continue to help the parents as it has been for the past 15 years, but now with the focus on the new generation.”
While the devoted husband and loving father of three boys has passed on, Central San Juan Diego and Reyes’ inner circle continue to mourn.
“Many of us witnessed how Juan Carlos grew and matured as a man, as a Christian, as a Catholic, as a leader,” said close friend Alfonso Lara, Director of Hispanic Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Denver. “His potential, spirit and commitment were always attractive. I always admired his youthfulness, dedication and love for people. He emerged from the Hispanic community and later served poured his heart to them.”
That heart was closely aligned to CSJD’s mission to offer faith formation and education for adults with the intention of enriching the lives of Colorado’s Hispanics.
“We believe that immigrants are a gift to the church and to society. We believe our participants have much to offer,” he said. “What we see in them is potential and opportunity. We truly believe they can achieve unimaginable heights and we try to communicate that through all we do.”