Please welcome Pastor Horacio Darynel Castillo and his family!!   He began his call at Holy Cross on October 1.  
Pastor Horacio's installation will be November 15th.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 

It is a joy and a blessing for me that you have extended me the call to be the pastor of this community of faith, Holy Cross Lutheran Church. I thank God for calling me to serve with you and work alongside you. As you know, God is always faithful both when we are faithful and when we are not faithful. I have found this to be true in my life and faith journey and I want to share with you a little bit of my life and calling to serve Christ’s church as a pastor.
I was born and raised in Guatemala City. I am the youngest of four children. My parents were both pastors. My father, along with my mother, founded the Lutheran Church I grew up in and where I served as a pastor for 10 years. I did my elementary and high school education in different schools while my father was preparing me to become a pastor at a very young age, sixteen years old to be exact. After I had been ordained and later started my ministry in 2004 I also went to college and graduated from Law-School in Guatemala City.

I like to think that God has a very good sense of humor, and one of the funny parts of my life journey that I want to share with you is that even though my father was preparing me to be a pastor; I did not want to be a pastor. However, I am now in Minnesota addressing you as your next pastor! I resisted my call for about seven years because I wanted to have my own life and not the life of a pastor, at least not the life my father had portrayed to me. In the meantime, I was given a scholarship by Augustana Lutheran Church in West St. Paul to improve my English. The purpose of this scholarship was so that I improve my English and go back to Guatemala to help the Lutheran Church in Guatemala communicate with the churches from the ELCA. I spent 7 months in Minnesota, from September 2003 to April 2004. As I returned to Guatemala I found out that during the National Assembly of the church they had voted me as their vice president and future bishop. 
Remember when I mentioned I was resisting my call? Well, this news did not sit very well with me so I compromised to only help the church with translation and receiving groups from the ELCA as they visited the church in Guatemala. I had my plans but God had greater plans for me. Before I knew it I was drawn into the ministry of the church in body, soul, and mind and I loved it. Shortly after I started working in the church I realized that I was receiving a call from God to be one of His preachers, and the National Church was calling me to be one of his leaders too. 

I met my wife, Amanda, in Guatemala and it happens that she too had her plans for life. I bet God at that point was already having more than enough laughs with the two of us, my wife and I. She traveled to Guatemala to learn Spanish and learn the culture of Guatemala and Central America so that when she would return to Minnesota she would be a more effective pastor. She had graduated from Luther Seminary in 2004 and was given a Preaching Fellowship, a scholarship that Luther Seminary gives out once a year to the best preacher of the Senior Master of Divinity class.

Long story short, we met and became best friends quickly. I fell in love with her as she was praying in our first visit to a rural community. Six months later we started dating, and one year after that we got married. Her plans to return to Minnesota in one year changed. We both served together in Guatemala for 10 years and as we started planning to remain in Guatemala to realize the ministry God was calling us to do for our entire lives, the plans we had changed once again. Isn’t God funny? We were called away to Minnesota in May 2013. My children and I moved permanently, as permanent as one can be, and my wife returned to Minnesota, ten years later, married to me, and with two beautiful children ages 5 and 2, at that time. 

As we moved to Minnesota the only two things we knew were that we would have a roof over our heads by living in my in-laws’ house in Northfield, and that the St. Paul Area Synod would work with Amanda and I to find us a call in a church. I enrolled in the Master’s of Arts program at Luther Seminary as part of my transition to the ELCA and I have been enjoying my time there. I expect to graduate in May of 2016. I have also been serving at Shepherd of the Hills for the past, almost, two years. I have been blessed to be there and my departure is bitter sweet because even though I care and have been blessed to be part of that community of faith, I am looking forward to get to know you at Holy Cross, care for you, and serve you. I am grateful to God that He is the one who is faithful ALL the time and He is the one who continues to create faith in us especially in times of transition. Today is a different story for my family and I. God continues to call us and to be faithful to us. God has provided my family and I with many blessings: wonderful people who care for us, a call at a church in Cottage Grove for my wife, a school for my children, and now a call for me at Holy Cross. I am humbled and full of joy for this call, I am excited and looking forward to get to know all of you, and I am most excited for the future God is leading us into, together, to support and comfort each other, walk with one another, and continue to grow in our faith together, as we continue to preach, teach, and receive Christ’s forgiveness from one another. The mission of the church is plenty and the workers are few, but Christ has called us together to be missionaries in our backyard and to the world. So brothers and sisters in Christ, let us find out where God is guiding us and leading us. 

In Christ’s service, 
Pr. Horacio Castillo