Walking to Emmaus

This article was posted on: March 15, 2021

Hilda and Osvaldo’s Inspiration to Serve

The Lord works in mysterious ways. His hand in Hilda Quintero and Osvaldo Valdivia’s story is a perfect example. The Valdivia Quinteros of St. Patrick Parish in Sparta both grew up in Jalisco, Mexico. But Hilda and Osvaldo never met in Mexico, but rather 10 years ago in Tomah. They were introduced at work and became friends. As they began learning about one another, they realized they had grown up in hometowns less than two hours apart!

Both Hilda and Osvaldo grew up in large, humble families that made the Catholic Faith their priority, ensuring all their children received catechesis and the sacraments. Mass and communal prayer were central to family life. Hilda’s mom volunteered at her parish often, always with Hilda by her side. Not a day went by that her family went to sleep without a prayer together, especially the rosary. “My mother taught me many prayers and the meaning of saying them with all my heart,” Hilda shares, a practice that has stuck with her even today. 

Similarly, Osvaldo’s mother made sure their whole family assisted at their parish. Growing up, both Hilda and Osvaldo sang in their church choirs. Reflecting on their childhoods, they agree: “Everything we learned from our parents marked our lives and we try to show our kids the same.”

Hilda’s father brought his wife and seven children to the U.S. from Mexico in hopes of providing for them a better future. Hilda was 13 years old at the time. Her family settled in Melrose, Minn., where she finished her schooling.

Osvaldo came to the United States in 1994 to help his mother and father, who were struggling financially, back home in Mexico. His hard work and the monetary support he sent home were a great help to them.

It was in June 2011 that Hilda’s and Osvaldo’s jobs brought them together. Within four years of meeting, the two were married. They settled in Sparta, where they currently live with their three children: Katherine, Axel and Osvaldo Gael. The couple agree that their providential meeting was a great blessing for each of them. 

Emmaus welcoming at Church.

St. Patrick became the Valdivia family’s parish home, but their inspiration to become more involved in serving there came from their Emmaus Experience in the summer of 2019. The couple had been hearing from friends and other parishioners how grateful they were for having attended an Emmaus retreat, so Hilda and Osvaldo wanted to experience it for themselves, “hoping to reinforce our relationship with God,” they share.

From the movement’s website, it details: “The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with the prayerful discernment and invitation from a sponsor. After one accepts this invitation, they complete an application. The Emmaus leaders prayerfully consider each applicant and in God’s time, the person is invited to attend a three-day experience of New Testament Christianity as a lifestyle.

“Following the three-day experience, participants are joined in small groups to support each other in their ongoing walk with Christ.

“Through the formational process of accountable discipleship in small groups and participation in the Emmaus community, each participant’s individual gifts and servant-leadership skills are developed for use in the local parish and its mission. Participants are encouraged to find ways to live out their individual call to discipleship in their home, parish and community.”

St. Patrick’s associate pastor, Father Fernando Lara Hernández, has been a great proponent of the Emmaus Experience in the community, encouraging his faithful to be involved and, in turn, bring that renewed excitement and inspiration to serve back into the parish community. 

“The Emmaus Experience was life-changing,” the Valdivias agree. “It helped to open the door of our hearts to God and understand His calling.” They encourage everyone to participate in future retreats if ever given the opportunity.

Hilda serves as a leader for the “women of Emmaus,” while Osvaldo assists with the “men of Emmaus.” Hilda is also a lector and a catechist. She maintains St. Patrick’s Spanish Facebook page. Osvaldo is an usher for the parish and he is preparing to assist with sacristan duties.

The Emmaus Experience was life-changing.
It helped us open the door of our hearts to God and understand
His calling.”

Father Fernando is grateful for the Valdivia Quintero’s involvement, saying, “They are willing to serve as much as possible and assist with whatever is needed in the parish.” He has witnessed the trickle-down effect of the Emmaus Experience as Hilda and Osvaldo work to help their children grow in relationship with God, as they have had the opportunity to do. 

Along with serving the parish together, the Valdivias worship together at Sunday Mass and their Friday night parish “holy hour,” where Osvaldo helps lead the night worship. “This is an hour spent with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist,” they explain. “We enjoy speaking to God, praying and praising Him. And our kids are always there with us. Now, more than ever, we must make sure our kids know the importance of having God in their lives—listening to the Gospel every day, understanding what He is trying to tell us and putting it in practice; that is our motivation.”

Since Sparta has a sizable Hispanic community, St. Patrick Parish celebrates the cultural feasts of the Faith in a special way. The Valdivia Quinteros love being a part of Las Posadas during Advent, celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 and honoring their departed loved ones on Día de Los Muertos on Nov. 2. It is a joy for Hilda and Osvaldo to celebrate in their Wisconsin community, and with their young family, the same feasts and festivals that they grew up honoring while growing up in their native Mexico. 

The Valdivia Quinteros enjoy traveling, experiencing new things and just being together to enjoy their Faith and family. Hilda is employed at Northern Engraving in human resources and is also working toward a degree in human resource management at Western Wisconsin Technical College. Osvaldo continues to work at the Walmart Distribution Center. Their days are busy, but they have found ways to give back and, like their parents before them, to make the Faith a priority in their family life.

As a family, the Valdivias take inspiration from  Mother St. Teresa and always try to live her words: “It is not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.”

Story and Photography by AMY EICHSTEADT
Published in the March 2021 Catholic Life Issue

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