By Liz Sullivan
For Deacon Rubén Solorio, his appointment as the new president of the Sacred Heart Nativity Schools in San Jose is not just another job. For Deacon Solorio, it is a calling and he is proof that the mission of the school – breaking the cycle of poverty through education – can work and work well.
On June 1, Deacon Solorio celebrated his inauguration with a Eucharistic Celebration at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church.
A member of Most Holy Trinity Parish, where he serves as a deacon, Deacon Solorio is a first generation member of his family to graduate from high school, Bellarmine College Prep and Santa Clara University.
He wants the same opportunities afforded him as a teenager for the students of Sacred Heart Nativity School for Boys (founded 2001) and Our Lady of Grace School for Girls (founded 2006). These are Santa Clara County’s only private, non-profit, Jesuit middle schools.
“It is a true honor to be here,” said Deacon Solorio during the inauguration Mass, “to be given this ministry. Education was the key to ending poverty in my family. It was a dream come true and it opened so many doors for me and my family. Now it is the same dream we have for these students.”
The Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Francis Cilia, Vicar General for the Diocese of San Jose, and concelebrated by Jesuit West Provincial Father Scott Santarosa, S.J.; Father Mike Gilson, S.J.; Sacred Heart of Jesus Pastor Father Walter Suarez and several priests who have touched Deacon Solorio’s life over the years. The Mass was also celebrated in the presence of Bishop Emeritus Carlos Sevilla, S.J., Diocese of Yakima, Washington.
To watch Deacon Solorio before the Mass, and right up until he was installed as President by Sacred Heart Nativity Board of Directors President Katie Burke, was to see a happy man, father, son, grandson and friend, smiling from ear-to-ear and greeting the many who had come out to celebrate this day with him.
“We believe Deacon Rubén is the right person, at the right time and the right place,” said Burke. “He will guide us into the next chapter in Nativity’s history.”
Once Deacon Solorio was the given the opportunity to express the thoughts that filled his mind and soul, people witnessed his passion, drive and determination and most importantly his commitment to the Sacred Heart Nativity Schools community.
“These children deserve the best education we can give them,” said Deacon Solorio, as a tear rolled down his cheek. “I ask you to continue this journey with me. These students deserve the best of you because I have benefitted from the best of you.”
Outgoing president Sonya Arriola shared her thoughts.
“It has been an honor to serve as your president the last four years,” she said. “Deacon Rubén, the Sacred Heart Nativity community welcomes you wholeheartedly with open arms. I have the utmost confidence in Deacon Rubén. He is a leader who brings new energy. I look to the future with unwavering hope. Thank you for sharing your life with the Nativity community.
Prior to the installation, which was held at the conclusion of the Mass, Father Santarosa provided the homily and reflected on the Gospel reading from Matthew 25: 31-40. This passage focuses on the Lord’s teaching on the final judgment challenges every disciple of Jesus has to be a harbinger of God’s kingdom in a broken world.
“Jesus likes to hang out with people who don’t appear to have much,” said Father Santarosa. “And dignity is to give freely, without cost. Our hope today, what we celebrate with you today Deacon Rubén, is that you put your body at Sacred Heart Nativity Schools every day and that you will truly hang out with Jesus Christ. Follow your heart as you give and receive so much more.”
In addition, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo both spoke and shared their feelings about Deacon Solorio and the next chapter in his life.
“It is my personal blessing that you continue to be a greater leader for our people,” said Cortese, who presented Solorio with a proclamation from the County. “Always be humble as you are.”