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Deacon Joe Alvarez is Turning 100

Deacon Joe Alvarez, center, with Bishop Oscar Cantú, priests, and other members of the deacon community.

At the 12 noon Mass at Saint John Vianney Church on April 7, Deacon Joe Alvarez was honored for his 100th birthday, which will be on May 21.  Bishop Oscar Cantú presided at the Mass where Deacon Joe was recognized.  The Mass was followed by a reception in his honor, in the hall with festive dancing by several groups and beautiful guitar music and singing by a balladeer.

Deacon Joe was born on May 21, 1919 in Long Beach, CA.  He is the oldest of three brothers and two sisters.  He moved to San Jose when he was 15 and worked at canneries until he was 21.  He served in the Army in World War II for four years and was awarded two Purple Heart medals and the Bronze Star medal.  In September 2014 he was invited to be part of the first Bay Area Honor Flight to visit the new World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.  While there, he had the honor of placing a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

After the Army, he worked for Safeway for 19 years, locally, in their candy factory, and then worked for the City of Sunnyvale.  On December 12, 1974, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he was ordained a Permanent Deacon in the first Spanish-speaking deacon formation class in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Along with the other Hispanic deacons, his ministry supported Caesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Movement.

As a deacon, in addition to his ministering at Saint John Vianney Parish, his primary ministry has been with the Spanish Charismatic Renewal.  He has coordinated the annual weekend gathering of Catholic Charismatics here in San Jose for many years and has been the liaison person to the Spanish Charismatic Renewal for the Archdiocese of San Francisco since 1970.  He has also been involved in the Spanish-language Cursillo, and conducted Communion services at Valley Medical Center.

Deacon Joe has two children, five grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.