Deacon Zoilo Martes, 78, a permanent deacon assigned to St. Michael Parish, Philadelphia died Aug. 25, after a long illness. He was preceded in death by his wife, Carmen, who died in February of this year.
Born in Utuado, Puerto Rico, he came to Philadelphia at a young age and for many years was employed by the Superior Bedding Co.
He was living in St. Peter the Apostle Parish when he entered the diaconate program but was assigned to St. Michael Parish after he was a ordained deacon in 1989, said Deacon Jose Betancourt who went through the diaconate program with him.
“I met him at St. Peter’s in 1980, he was a good man and helped me a lot,” Deacon Betancourt said. “He was happy-go-lucky and always making jokes.”
Msgr. John Miller, who is administrator at St. Michael, only knew him as a shut-in, but “I always heard good things about him,” he said.
“He was a quiet, humble man and everything in the files indicates he conducted himself in exemplary fashion, faithful in attendance to his duties,” said Deacon James T. Owens, Director of the Office for Permanent Deacons.
Someone who knew him very well was Carmen Juanita Arroyo, who had attended Marriage Encounter and Cursillo with him and his wife, but still, when he entered the program to become a deacon was shocked, because in his youth “he was a wild young man,” she said. When he settled down, “he became a soldier of God; he wanted people to realize what Catholic meant. He would push the people, telling them you have to give your best to God.”
Even in his illness, “when I went to see him I came away filled with God. He was a marvelous friend and a proud Catholic,” she said.
Deacon Martes’ funeral Mass was celebrated Sept. 3 at St. Michael’s by Bishop John McIntyre, who knew him from years past when the Deacon would assist him during Spanish Masses at the parish. Concelebrants included Msgr. Hugh Shields, Redemptorist Father Bruce Lewandowski and Father John Harkins, a former pastor at St. Michael.
He is survived by his daughters, Carmen Nicotra and Linda Sanchez, and son Irvin Martes.
Interment was at Greenmount Cemetery, Philadelphia.