09/25/1944 – 05/28/2011
Msgr. José Aguirre López, a native son of Kenedy, Tx., known for his sharp intellect and gentle and humble heart, was called to his eternal reward on May 28, at age 66. He left as his legacy the very heart and character of hundreds of priests and thousands of lay leaders who he helped to form in their understanding of their faith, their dedication to service and their love of God.
Msgr. López was born on Sept. 25, 1944, to Augustina Aguirre-López and Serapio B. López in Green, just six miles from Kenedy. He was one of seven children. His family provided his life with a foundation of faith and a personal temperament that immediately instilled trust in all he met. His gregarious and fun-loving personality were special qualities that allowed him to form enduring friendships. He grew up with a great appreciation for education and a life-long passion for reading.
Msgr. López’s 40 years as a priest, began when he was ordained by Archbishop Francis J. Furey at his home parish in Kenedy on April 16, 1971. On Sept. 8, 2005, his appointment as monsignor came as part of the last group approved for this honor by Pope John Paul II.
Msgr. López served in the 70’s and 80’s as archdiocesan vocation director and in 1981, he joined the Assumption Seminary formation team, holding a variety of positions over the next three decades. Msgr. López was a spiritual director, formation advisor, interim vice-rector, dean of men, and director of Pastoral Formation. His love for his own priesthood and his innate pastoral sense balanced by his intellect and animated by his quick wit and wide smile left a lasting imprint on literally thousands of men throughout the United States who were seeking the meaning of their own call to the priesthood.
Msgr. López touched the people he served as a parish priest in deeply personal and profound ways. From his first assignment after his ordination in Notre Dame Parish in Kerrville to his ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Cuero and St. Margaret Mary Parish in San Antonio, people were immediately drawn to Father José with trust, respect and always love. He understood, taught and modeled collegiality and collaboration between laity and clergy.
It’s that pastoral experience and his distinguished academic career that prepared him for more than 30 years of teaching pastoral theology, pastoral care and counseling, and preaching/homiletics at Oblate School of Theology. Msgr. López attended high school at St. John’s Seminary in San Antonio, Assumption Seminary and received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in theology from St. Mary’s University. He also did his doctoral studies at Claremont University in California under the mentorship of distinguished and well published pastoral counselor, Howard Clinebell, Ph.D.
Even though he is best known for his work at Assumption Seminary and Oblate School of Theology, he never lost touch with the people of God. He loved and believed in people and led a life of total self-giving on their behalf. He was active in the ACTS retreat movement since its inception, reigniting the love for God, his church and one another in the lives of many. He was a great storyteller, seamlessly moving between English and Spanish, and that made him always in demand as a speaker, preacher and leader of many kinds of retreats. There likely isn’t a parish or mission in the archdiocese where he didn’t help with sacramental ministry, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions and administering the sacrament of the sick.
Msgr. López defined with his life what it means to be a priest’s priest, a servant of servants. He was sought out as a counselor, spiritual director, confessor and consultor by laity, religious, bishops and clergy seeking his practical advice and guidance and his great spiritual wisdom.
He served the Archdiocese of San Antonio as director of Continuing Education for Clergy, was a member of the Personnel Board, and dean of the Northwest Urban Deanery. He also served as advocate and judge in the archdiocesan Marriage Tribunal and mentored in the Diaconate Formation program.
His multifaceted ministry was marked by determination, faith and zeal. In his uniquely unassuming way he stirred the hearts of clergy, religious and laity to love God through service to one another. His influence will be felt for generations through the inspired lives of the many he served.
Msgr. López is survived by his sisters; Elvira Gonzales of Kenedy, Ilda Ensenia of Sweetwater, and Rose Irene (Dean) Morris of Radcliff, Ken.; Aunt: Beatrice Soliz of San Antonio; 15 nieces and nephews; 20 grand-nieces and grand-nephews; and, 3 great-grand-nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents: Augustina Aguirre López and Serapio B. López, his brother, Octaviano López and his sisters; Barbara DeLeon, Mary Hernandez and two grand-nephews.
Viewing, visitation and wake/rosary were held in San Antonio on Thursday, June 2nd. The Mass of Resurrection was celebrated Friday, June 3rd, all at the Church of the Holy Spirit.
In Kenedy, viewing, visitation, rosary and Mass of the Resurrection was held Saturday, June 4th, at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, 1 Notre Dame Plaza. Burial was at the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Kenedy immediately following the Mass. A grand reception was held afterward in the parish hall.
Pallbearers for services in San Antonio were the most recently ordained priests of the archdiocese, and in Kenedy, family members.
In lieu of flowers please make memorial donations to the Father José A. López Scholarship Fund at Assumption Seminary, 2600 W. Woodlawn Avenue, San Antonio, Texas 78228. Arrangements by The Angelus Funeral Home, 1119 N. St. Mary’s St., San Antonio, Texas 78215.