Difficult to summarize 57 years of priestly service in a few minutes. He was one of several priests who came to the Diocese of Brownsville at the request of Bishop Humberto Medeiros. Fathers Joe Murry, Leo Ferriera, Joe Delaney, and Joe Galante were all from the Massachusetts area. Msgr. Louis Brum was a seminarian and came with other seminarians. There were over 60 Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate who were serving here along with about 20 diocesan priests. The picture has changed drastically since 1969 when Msgr. Agostinho Pacheco arrived. There are now more diocesan priests than religious order priests. However, we still continue to rely on the help of other Dioceses and other countries to help us supply priests for our parishes. We are grateful to Msgr. Pacheco who left his home, his family, his friends to start a new life among folks he had never met. [I was stationed at St. Anthony in Harlingen, just a few months ordained, when Msgr. Pacheco asked me if I could come and help him with some of the Masses in Alamo. He had some kind of infirmity and had to use a wheel chair. So I arrived and was greeted by Sr. Joan who gave me my list of duties. During Mass at Our Lady of Fatima I looked to the side because I sensed someone was watching me—It was Fr. Gus in the wheel chair—making sure that I was doing things correctly. The people of the parish were very complimentary of his leadership. Usually folks tell a visiting priest all the dirt—there was none that I heard. They even mentioned that his Spanish was improving. And I thought to myself, I think that their Portuguese was improving.]
Msgr. Pacheco had many talents. He was a fellow violinist, but did not spend too much time with the instrument. The few times that we did play the violin together, the music came right back to him. Obviously, he had learned his lessons well. But the talent that stands out for all to see is his gift of administration. Everything that Msgr. Pacheco touched prospered. He exhibited one of the biggest smiles when he hit the jackpot in Las Vegas on the penny machines. (Who else could have outsmarted the penny machines?) Shortly after his 50th anniversary, which he celebrated here, Msgr. Gus told everyone about his good fortune.
Providentially we celebrate his entry into eternal life in the Church that he built. Parishioners can remember the Holy Masses celebrated in Msgr. Ralph Hall until this building was dedicated in 1999. Msgr. Pacheco also started Holy Spirit Parish here in McAllen. The list of his accomplishments is extensive. When he retired in 2007 he had every right to put his feet up and enjoy rest and relaxation but he chose to work as a hospital chaplain, a responsibility that he fulfilled almost until his death. Msgr. Pacheco leaves big shoes to fill. He has finished the race, fought the good fight and is enjoying the promise to the good and faithful servant. Now it is our turn to carry on the mission of the Church. Pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray for our seminarians and for others to be called to serve the Lord in a full-time ministry. Support your priests and religious who are serving now. Our call is to work together to build the Kingdom. The challenge is great because the number of Catholics continues to grow, but not in proportion to the number of priests and religious needed to preach the Gospel. We thank the Lord for the Permanent Deacons who have answered the call. We thank the Lord for the dedicated lay ministers who have given years of their lives to serve their communities. The death of Msgr. Pacheco is a wake up call to all of us to work and to pray for an increase of labors for the Church, fellow labors with Christ to spend and consume themselves for souls—that is our life.
That was the life of Msgr. Agostinho Pacheco. He lived and died for Christ and for the Church he loved. May He rest in peace and may Perpetual Light shine upon him.