Fr. Pilmaiken Lezano, new spiritual advisor to Calgary’s CWL. Photo courtesy Fr. Lezano

Priest brings CWL a youthful perspective

  • February 4, 2021

It is safe to assume Fr. Pilmaiken Lezano became theologically and philosophically knowledgeable about the concept of Divine Providence during his years of study at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton from 2012-2015.

Lezano’s own life journey from Puno, Peru, a city resting upon the shore of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, to his current role as associate pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in Calgary is a case study in God as a guiding life force, the next step which will see him become spiritual advisor to the Calgary diocese’s Catholic Women’s League.

Consider that one of the priests the 33-year-old Lezano befriended in childhood, Fr. Freddy Valdivia, sparked his interest in the priesthood by inviting him to become an altar server at age 12. And when Lezano was 25, Valdivia — who continued his priestly service in Calgary where he retired in August after serving as associate pastor at St. Luke’s Parish — urged then Calgary Bishop Frederick Henry to invite Lezano to come to Canada to discern a vocation to the priesthood.

“It’s really interesting, but even though we are close friends, I have never yet asked (Valdivia) what he saw in me when I was young in any of our conversations,” said Lezano in a phone interview with The Catholic Register. “Perhaps the honesty and sincerity of our friendship, and my openness to approaching him, played a role.”

Divine Providence appeared to be at work on Lezano’s behalf again late last year as Fr. Jonathan Gibson, pastor of St. Peter’s Parish, encouraged Bishop William McGrattan to seriously consider Lezano as his replacement for the CWL spiritual advisor role. Lezano began his term on New Year’s Day.

Gibson witnessed Lezano’s potential up close as he mentored Lezano at St. Peter’s before his 2015 ordination. Jan Myhre, the receptionist at St. Peter’s and current CWL president, got to know him as well.

“I was absolutely thrilled to hear that Fr. Lezano would be appointed to be our new diocesan spiritual advisor,” said Myhre, who has served as treasurer and president for multiple stints since joining the CWL in 2006. “He is younger than most of our spiritual advisors in the past and that is a good thing because I hope it will entice some of the younger Catholic women to perhaps join the league.

“Most of our membership is mid-50s and up, and we’ve always been struggling to encourage younger members to join. We are hoping this can help.”

Lezano was “really pleasantly surprised” to be offered this “incredible honour” because he considers himself to be “quite low profile in the diocese.”

“I know how many projects the CWL does around Calgary and all across Canada. I feel like this will be an eye-opening experience for me as well as a growing opportunity for me as we work as Catholics to improve Canadian society.”

The youthful Lezano has taken big leaps of faith before. After all, Lezano made the “extremely difficult” decision to move to Alberta, which meant putting close to 9,000 kilometres between him and his parents Nidia and Percy, an older sister and four older brothers. 

“You may know that in Latin America, and particularly Peru, that family ties are extremely tight. I have always had a close relationship with my parents and siblings. And it was difficult to leave my nephews and nieces.”

Lezano, who says he “could explain the Trinity better than what I would bring to the CWL,” does concur with Myhre that his youthfulness should enable him to offer fresh perspectives and that his “joviality” can help the league connect with young women and immigrant diocesan members.   

Because of the ongoing restrictions due to COVID-19, Lezano will not hit the ground running. Myrhe will continue to review protocols and discuss 2021 plans with her new CWL spiritual advisor in the weeks ahead. The Calgary diocese’s 99th annual convention from April 30 to May 2 is the first major event on Lezano’s agenda.

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