North Kitsap gets a taste of South America

Fr. Luevano ministers to local Hispanic followers.

POULSBO — Two local faith communities recently rolled out the welcome mat for a new church leader.

But instead of a hearty, ‘Hello,” Father Adrian Luevano got a, “Hola” from his parishioners.

Luevano was recently appointed to a part time residence as the parochial vicar with St. Olaf’s Parish in Poulsbo and its sister parish of St. Peter’s Mission in Suquamish. In addition, Luevano serves Hispanic ministries throughout the Puget Sound area.

For the last year and a half, Luevano has been saying the fourth Sunday Spanish mass at St. Olaf’s. With his new appointment, he’ll be doing Saturday evenings at St. Olaf’s at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. Sundays at St. Peter’s in addition to other duties during the four days he’s in Little Norway each week.

The appointment will last until 2006.

“It’s a beautiful place and the people are a very good people. The pastor is a very wonderful person,” Luevano said of Poulsbo.

Hailing from Aquascalientes, Mexico, Luevano had a profound calling experience at the age of 25. Despite having a sweetheart that he’d given a ring to, and being fearful of giving up his former life, Luevano said he felt strongly enough about the calling to enter the seminary.

He will celebrate his 25th anniversary in the ministry this year.

“I am very happy to serve my God and I have known the world and known that life but this is incomparable to serving God. I am very happy because I can help people in many circumstances,” Luevano said of his ministry.

In addition to seminary, Luevano studied philosophy in Spanish in New Mexico, theological law and grief counseling in Europe and an introduction to the Holy Land in the Holy Land. Luevano had also visited Europe and the United States a number of times, but it wasn’t until 1998 that he was asked to come help Hispanic ministries in the United States.

St. Olaf’s Business Director Frank White said the St. Olaf’s and St. Peter’s parish community couldn’t be happier to bring Luevano into the fold. He added that while the Hispanic ministry is an important part of the local parish, the real emphasis of having the new vicar was to create unity between the English and Spanish ministries.

“We don’t want to develop into an Anglo community and a Hispanic community, we want to be a diverse community,” White said. “It’s a multi-cultural thing. We don’t want to separate, we want to share, that is our goal but it’s not going to happen over night.”

When he’s not in North Kitsap, Luevano can be found performing similar duties for parishes in place like Sumner, Renton, Belfair, Port Townsend and Port Orchard. He celebrates daily mass with the priests at each parish he serves, as well as weekend Spanish mass.

“All the days I’m driving here and driving there, going on the ferry and being in long lines,” Luevano said with a chuckle of his duties.

Luevano and his only sister were orphaned at the ages of 5 and 2 respectively and were raised by their grandparents. The priest credits his grandmother (who he refers to as his mother) with having instilled the Catholic faith in him. And while he said being away from his family for so long is a difficult prospect, he brought along a few familiar faces to keep him company.

Luevano has been a ventriloquist for the last 39 years and eight of his 36 puppets came to the U.S. with him. The puppets have already become well-known personalities around the parish, as they sometimes make appearances at church.

“When I finish mass I sometimes I talk to the kids. I say, ‘How are you?’ I also ask things of the big people, too. Like, ‘Did you understand the gospel?’ And, ‘What did you learn today?’” Luevano explained.

One memorable moment for Luevano and his puppets was a 1987 visit by Pope John Paul II to Mexico. Luevano brought one of his “children” along with him, which immediately caught the Holy See’s attention.

“The Pope looked right at me and went immediately over to me and I was just afraid, I didn’t say anything,” Luevano recalled. “Then the Pope touched the mouth made it move and said, ‘Mexico. Mexico. Rah. Rah. Rah.’”

And while he can’t physically be present in Mexico, Luevano does minister to people in his homeland through a weekly radio program. He makes tapes for the half-hour segment and sends them to the station every week. Luevano can also be heard in the states at 5:15 Sundays on 1540 AM.

In his spare time, Luevano bicycles nine miles every week and also weight lifts. He has also toured Europe 22 times, often as a tour guide for community groups.