Saturday, January 14, 2012

Juan Rodriguez - AKA "Arthanius"

Juan Rodriguez is currently the Pastoral Minister of Queen of Angels Parish in Sunnyside, NY. He is the founder of Defenders of the Holy Trinity (a young adult organization created to support Catholic Youth and Young Adults in New York on their formation of the Catholic Faith). Born and raised in the LES (Lower East Side of Manhattan), Juan is married to his beloved, Bertha Peralta, otherwise known as “B”, and they both have a beautiful little girl. A Newyorican who speaks a little bit of Spanish, raised a Catholic by his parents, Pedro and Angela Rodriguez, who are long time members of St. Mary’s Church in the LES. When growing up, he lived a pretty interesting life, mixing in with "head-bangers" (those into heavy metal) and the "hoods". He came to the realization that God was calling him to a life of service, which began with a girl who God used to challenge Him to defend the Catholic Faith. He began his journey back to God when he realized how far he had wandered off away from the grace of our Lord. With the help of his parents, Juan was spiritually educated and formed, and later served as an activities leader for a youth group named “Jovenes Unidos En Cristo” (Youth United in Christ). A Charismatic youth group stationed at St. Mary’s to help youth come back to the Lord.

While spending his time serving that youth group, Juan saw that the youth leaders he worked with, both at the parish and in the Charismatic Renewal, were not studying their faith. He saw that some of these leaders were in danger of falling away from the Catholic faith or were endangering the souls of the many youth under their care. Back in the L.E.S. Juan saw the rise of anti-Catholic attacks from Christian Denominations (Protestant), Quasi-denominations (JW’s, Morman’s, etc), and philosophical teachings that were leading many Catholics away from Jesus. With the grace of God and the help of his good pal, Nelson Feria, Anthony Egipsiaco, Ricky Ilundain, and Robert Tapia, they began “DHT”.

DHT later experienced some set backs when Juan and Nelson entered the seminary, never to work at the project, but to seek God’s will in their lives. Discerning that God had other plans for them, they both left the seminary, believing that God was calling them to married life. Later Nelson married Vickiana, and Juan married Bertha. They both felt that God was calling them to share their experiences with youth and young adults about seeking God’s will, especially when it came to vocations to the married life, priesthood, and religious life. With that in mind, Johnny and Nelson brought “DHT” back to life, inviting some of the most dynamic and inspirational leaders to join in our mission to evangelize youth and young adults of New York. Those people were George and Lily Velez, Fr. Anthony Melendez IVE., Robert Tapia, Mark Jovik, Alexandra Bastien, Rossy Orosco, Bertha Peralta (My Wife), Arthur Tsui, and Br. Andrew Tsui. As a team, they dedicated themselves to teaching youth and young adults how to live and defend their faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church.

From his conversion back to the faith, to the creation of DHT, Juan believes this was a major adventure for him. The name “Arthanius” explains his adventure back to the Church. It comes from two names, “Arthur”, which symbolized his storytelling days play Dungeons and Dragons, and “St. Athanasius”, the patron saint who is honored with the title “Defender of the Catholic Faith”. Later, the name “Arthanius” was used for our old web site called “The Land of Arthanius”. Juan believes he is still on an adventure.