Cisco Lloveras Showed Us The Face Of 'the Saints Next Door'
In my opinion, Cisco Lloveras was the kind of person Pope Francis had in mind when he wrote “Gaudete et Exsultate,” an apostolic exhortation in which he seeks to “re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunites” (G.E. 2).
Lloveras, who served as Director of Music for St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Dale, died on April 10 after a brief illness. He was 43. In the April 20 issue of The Message, Assistant Editor Trisha Hannon Smith presented a wonderful profile on Lloveras and his family – and on the impact he had during his relatively short time as a member of our 12-county Catholic community.
In “Gaudete et Exsultate,” our Holy Father writes, “To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves” (G.E. 14).
I believe that anyone who ever spent any time with Cisco knows that he unquestionably qualified as that kind of person. My experience was that, once he knew you, he knew you as a friend. We last saw each other at St. Benedict Cathedral during Holy Week, when he sang in the Diocesan Choir for the annual Chrism Mass.
When we made eye contact, he smiled broadly, stood up from his seat in the choir and reached out to offer a handshake full of friendship, compassion and joy.
When Cisco was involved with music for a Mass or other event, it wasn’t possible to “not sing.” His enthusiasm, driven undoubtedly by a soul full of the Holy Spirit, infected everyone to join in.
In G.E. 16, Pope Francis suggests that the “holiness to which the Lord calls you grow through small gestures.” I have mentioned examples already. Cisco offered many such gestures on a regular basis.
My motivation to write this column is two-fold:
- First, I hope that I can help readers (who may not have had a chance to meet and get to know Cisco) to understand what a truly wonderful man, husband, father and music minister he was. Not only will his own family and the St. Francis of Assisi Parish family miss him, I believe our entire diocesan community will miss him and the joy he brought through his music.
- Second, I want readers to see a shining example of “the saints next door” that Pope Francis refers to in “Gaudete et Exsultate” – “Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbors; those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them ‘the middle class of holiness’” (G.E. 7).
Because of the production schedule of The Message, I couldn’t attend Cisco’s funeral Mass in Dale on April 16. Several other staff members did, however, and they all mentioned how wonderful the music was. Cisco was smiling down on the musicians and singers from the heavenly choir; I have no doubt.
We – all of us, across the Diocese of Evansville – are better for his presence here. May he rest in peace.