Utah mission honors slain deacon

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A standing-room-only crowd gathered for Mass at Saint Lawrence Mission on May 27, not only to celebrate Pentecost but also in memory of Deacon Aniceto Armendariz, who was murdered seven years ago.

“He was an example to us of the faithful in God in his ministry,” said Father Stanislaw Herba, pastor of the mission as well as Saint Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Park City.

Deacon Armendariz was shot to death on Sept. 25, 2005 as he returned from Mass in Park City. His wife, Alma Armendariz, suffered minor injuries when the vehicle they were in crashed and rolled. Both worked for Holy Cross Ministries; the couple had four children. In 2007 two men were sentenced for the deacon’s murder. Prosecutors said the killers were hired by a third party who mistakenly believed Deacon Armendariz was a police informant.

“Deacon Aniceto was a devoted husband and father, one of the finest people I know, and he died as a martyr to the faith,” said Deacon Tom Tosti during his homily prior to the dedication of the fellowship room at St. Lawrence Mission.

The two deacons became friends after they started commuting together to the deaconate formation classes in Salt Lake City 13 years ago, Deacon Tosti said. To help learn each other’s language, during the commute, Deacon Armendariz would speak only in English and Deacon Tosti would speak only in Spanish, and “we would correct each other,” Deacon Tosti said. “The differences in our languages were not important because we both knew the message we were hearing – that message was the word of God … and even though we couldn’t understand all the words, we understood the message.”

The two were ordained deacons on Jan. 24, 2001.

All of the rooms at St. Lawrence Mission serve several functions; the fellowship hall is no different. “Here the young people are going to learn of their Catholic faith, and adults will deepen their commitment to live as Christ has taught us,” Fr. Herba said during the dedication ceremony. “We pray that the Word of God may always echo from these walls.”

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