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Blind priest: I’ve won more souls for God without my sight

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Mónica Muñoz

Pbro. José Humberto Negrete Lezo

Mónica Muñoz - published on 05/14/24

Fr. José Humberto Negrete Lezo told Aleteia about his experience as a blind priest, sharing how losing his eyesight has impacted his life and ministry.

Of the five senses, sight is generally the most appreciated by human beings, as it allows us to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Aleteia spoke with Fr. José Humberto Negrete Lezo, a priest who became blind due to an illness.

Seven years without sight

Fr. Humberto, originally from Irapuato, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, was born on May 4, 1968. He received priestly ordination on July 27, 1996. Several years ago, he became ill with diabetes. Due to complications his condition got worse, to the point of damaging his retina and causing him to lose his sight completely. “I’d been losing my eyesight for nine years, and for the last seven years I’ve had no vision at all,” he says.

However, his life experience has focused him more on the spiritual side. “It has made me more sensitive to those who suffer, to the sick, to those who ask me to listen to them, to those who ask for a little of my time. My time is for them,” he says, because within his limitations, he is moving forward.

A difficult loss

The priest confesses that at the beginning his loss of sight was very difficult for him. He was angry and unwilling to submit to God’s will. “Time is what has been calming me down, reassuring me, little by little” he says. “I wouldn’t say that I’ve already overcome this human attitude of aversion towards suffering,” he admits, “but we must recognize its divine meaning.”

He says that, looking at his situation coldly and from the human point of view, his life has lost meaning “because I have become isolated. Sometimes I feel discriminated against by my brother priests, but seeing it from a theological, divine perspective, this is a gain,” he says with conviction. “I have won more souls for God without sight, than with sight.”

Rectoría del Señor Atado a la Columna Diócesis de Celaya
Fr. Humberto and his local bishop during the celebration of his parish’s patronal feast day

How does he celebrate Mass?

Despite his disability, he is in charge of a parish and hasn’t been impeded from celebrating Mass. He has an assistant who stands next to him during the Eucharist to read from the Missal for him, and he repeats it. In addition, the liturgy team reads the Gospel and he gives the homily. And although there are ministers to assist him, he also distributes communion. “My disability is visual, not motor,” he says with a smile.

In the face of suffering, weeping and commendation

Fr. Umberto understands that many people go through the same suffering as he does, going from “observing colors, people, daily life and suddenly, not seeing anything,” he explains. He hopes that they will be encouraged by having a priest who shares and understands their experience.

He concludes by saying that “it’s a very difficult situation. Experience your grief. Cry for your eyes, for the loss of your sight, as if you had lost a friend or a loved one. But, after that, entrust yourselves very much to God. Without the Lord, a person with a disability cannot move forward.”

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