Montoya: New deacon credits wife for strong faith
By Enedelia J. Obregón
Bishop Joe Vásquez ordained Dave Montoya a permanent deacon on June 21 at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Cedar Park. Deacon Montoya began his formation in 2008 and was scheduled for ordination on April 13, 2013, with 11 other men.
However, he had to drop out of formation to care for his wife, Anna, after she suffered a major stroke in June 2012.
“I was less than a year from ordination,” he said. “I just needed two classes on homiletics.”
For a while he did not know if he would have to start anew and be ordained with another class. It all depended on the health of his wife of 35 years.
“I always said I’d get back when things got better,” Deacon Montoya said. “The bishop was very patient and indicated I could restart where I left off.”
So last fall, he returned to his classes and he also became the business administrator at St. Thomas More Parish in Austin.
Deacon Ray Sanders came to the couple’s house three times a week to teach the classes Montoya needed. Anna was with him for the classes; she had to retire from her nursing career after her stroke.
Deacon Ron Walker, diocesan chancellor and director of Diaconal Ministry, said the diocese recognized that Montoya needed to tend to his wife’s medical needs.
“After much effort and prayer, Anna’s condition improved to the point that Dave could re-enter formation,” Deacon Walker said. “At Bishop Vásquez direction, Dave was able to complete his formation.”
At Deacon Montoya’s ordination, Bishop Vásquez thanked the new deacon and his wife for their commitment to the church and to God’s call.
“I am pleased that Anna is better and I am thankful to both Dave and Anna for their love of one another and for the church,” he said. The large crowd at the ordination erupted in applause when the bishop announced that Deacon Montoya had been assigned to St. Margaret Mary Parish.
Anna Montoya was excited at the ordination of her husband.
“It’s exciting! I’m very proud,” she said. “When we first married, he wasn’t like this.” Deacon Montoya credits Anna with keeping him on track regarding their faith.
“She always had a strong faith,” he said. “When we were first married there were a lot of Sundays I wanted to sleep late. She’d say, ‘No, we’re going to Mass.’ She was the angel on my shoulder tapping me to do the right thing.”
Faith and family are foundations for the couple. In 1998, Anna donated one of her kidneys to her sister, Janie, who had lived her life with a myriad of health problems. Though Janie died in 2003, Anna has no regrets, knowing that her sister had some good, healthy years.
The couple met when Montoya was a Navy ensign stationed at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville. Anna is a Kingsville native and one of four sisters and two brothers. She is a descendant of kineños, the name given to the generations of mainly Mexican-Americans born and raised on the King Ranch.
Deacon Montoya was in the Navy from 1976-1994, retiring as a lieutenant commander. He served on an aircraft carrier during Desert Storm. The El Paso native was raised in Los Angeles but made a detour to Texas in 1979 to marry Anna before she finished her nursing degree. After following him around the world and raising two sons, Anna finished her degree in 2000 at the University of Texas at Austin. They settled in the Austin area and he worked for the state for 18 years before retiring again. After Anna’s illness, Deacon Montoya went back to work at St. Thomas More Parish to help ensure Anna’s health care needs are met.
Throughout his different careers, he felt a desire to serve the church. That desire became more pronounced when he started working for the state.
“We were serving at church. I was an usher and Eucharistic minister and a Knight of Columbus - I was Grand Knight. Then I read about another Knight becoming a deacon, but I wasn’t sure if that was an option,” he said.
Deacon Montoya became close friends with Deacon Toby Romero, who has since retired from St. Margaret Mary, and Deacon Paul Rodriguez, who is also at St. Margaret Mary.
“I watched Paul and thought ‘that’s one way to serve God. I’ve served my country and my state. It’s time to serve God,’” Deacon Montoya said. “I was working my way up!”
While driving to Manor with Deacon Romero and his wife to the wedding of a couple they had sponsored, Deacon Montoya began to seriously consider the diaconate.
With the support of his pastor, Father Le-Minh Pham, the Montoyas attended the initial discernment meeting within a few weeks. Then they started attending diaconate classes. Every step of the way during formation, he discerned whether he still had the call. He never looked back.
“From the day she had the stroke, it was ‘whatever God’s will, it will be done,’” Deacon Montoya said. “My only concern was whether she would live, and in rehab about what her quality of life would be.”
Now, he is discerning what ministry needs him at St. Margaret Mary.
“God sent us in a different direction with the stroke,” Deacon Montoya said. “We’ll go wherever God takes us.”