RANCHO CUCAMONGA—Noted for his compassion, joy and eagerness to serve God and the Church, Deacon Roberto Cardenas was remembered by close to 400 people gathered at Sacred Heart Church in Rancho Cucamonga at a rosary following the news of his passing.
Deacon Cardenas, 72, was returning home from visiting his son in Hesperia when he was involved in a fatal car accident on Nov. 29. Cardena’s wife and daughter were taken to the hospital and four other passengers suffered minor injuries
“His death is a drastic loss, not only to my family but to everyone who knew him,” said Patty Ruiz, a friend of the family and colleague in ministry. “He touched so many lives.”
Deacon Cardenas was born in Guadalajara, Mexico March 30, 1941 the oldest of nine children of Liberato Cárdenas and Maria Garcia. He came to the United States in 1962 and he and Maria “Cuca” Refugio were married on November 26, 1964.
They had a son, Roberto, and two daughters, Maria and Martha. Both Cuca and Deacon Cardenas have been very active in various ministries for many years. He worked in various jobs and graduated from Pasadena City College in 1977. He then started an automobile repair business now run by his son.
He was ordained, together with 12 classmates, as a permanent Deacon for the Diocese of San Bernardino on October 5, 1996 by Bishop Gerald Barnes at an Ordination Mass at St. Theresa Church in Palm Springs.
He served as a deacon at a number of parishes, including St. Mary, Fontana; Christ the King, San Bernardino; St. Charles Borromeo, Bloomington; St. Peter and St. Paul, Alta Loma and Sacred Heart, Rancho Cucamonga, his most recent assignment, where he has been the Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry. He and Cuca have lived in Fontana for many years.
On Thanksgiving he was so happy and many people said they left so inspired because of him, Father Benedict Nwachukwu said of Deacon Cardenas. That was the type of man he was, he added.
The parish community began praying the Rosary in honor of Deacon Cardenas following the Saturday evening Mass on Nov. 30. Rosaries were held every evening after that.
“He was a very strong influence in my faith life from the very beginning,” Ruiz said. “He made us all feel like family.”
At time of publication, funeral arrangements were not available.