Graciela Montes was born on April 3, 1927, three years before the Great Depression in the hamlet called Quebrada Honda, Durango, Mexico. Her parents were Alejandra Tavizón and Lucano Monarrez. She was about six years old when her father died, leaving Graciela alone with her mother. Even though her parents had not heard the Gospel when she was born, it was in her adolescence that her mother was converted. Graciela and her grandmother, Petra Aguilera, out of curiosity, started visiting a place where services were held, but they didn’t have the slightest idea what the services were about.
Graciela would say that the first time she saw the brethren in a blessing she got really scared; she didn’t know what was happening. Nevertheless, not much time passed before her grandmother also got baptized and was receiving the “Holy Spirit blessing”. In those days, it was the distinguished minister, Isidro Pérez Ramirez, who would later become the president of the Apostolic Church in Mexico, who brought the Gospel to those rural regions of Mexico. Other Oneness ministers of the Gospel followed, including Ignacio Mariscal and José Peña. Minister Mariscal soon baptized Graciela and her grandmother, Petra, in the Name of Jesus.
In 1943 she married Luciano Montes, a handsome young man who also hailed from Durango. Luciano would tell that during his courtship with Graciela he would often mount his chestnut-colored horse and cautiously approach Graciela’s house. This was always a risk for him because neither Graciela’s uncles nor grandmother—before her conversion to the Gospel—could stand the sight of him. They met in January and married on May 25 of that year. It was Minister Mariscal who officiated.
After giving birth to their first daughter, Emma, they moved to Torreón, Coha, where they lived for three years and where Nohemi was born. In that city they were pastored by the illustrious minister José Ortega Aguilar, who also rose to a high rank in the Church in Mexico. Graciela would say that it was in Torreón where she lived some of her happiest years of her marriage. After being in Torreón, they had to move again given that there was a shortage of work. They moved to the great, dusty and border city of Ciudad Juarez, Chih.
Graciela and Luciano lived in Cd. Juarez from 1950 to 1967. There the Lord allowed them to greatly grow their family. In fact, in that city and in El Paso across the border, were born the majority of their nine living children, including, Samuel, Luciano Jr., Ruth, Joel, Jorge, and Hugo. Always active in the church that they so much loved, in Cd. Juarez they worked with Pastor Manuel Esquivel Fonseca. Afterwards, they were pastored by the first martyr of the church, Benito Peña Cortez. After being members of the First Apostolic Church for a few years, they helped open the Third Apostolic Church of Cd. Juarez. It was there that Graciela started her tireless work with the Dorcas as leader and fundraiser. In order to feed his family, Luciano turned into a roving salesman, selling from caramelized sweet potatoes to clothing through the streets of Cd. Juarez. For a number of years he also had to leave his family to work as a bracero through southern States, leaving behind the valiant and virtuous Graciela to care for their sizeable family.
Always looking for a better life for their family, Graciela and Luciano decided to take a very bold step by moving to the large, industrious and absurdly cold city of Chicago in 1967. There, Elias, their last son, was born. In those days, the Apostolic Church was made up of a small number of brethren who congregated in a small temple on 19th Street in the area known as Pilsen.
In that small congregation, whose pastors were the much beloved Ishmael and Juanita Arellano, she had the pleasure of knowing Terecita de Suby, an Argentine/Spanish woman who extended her hand of help and kindness to Graciela and her large, recently arrived family. Soon, Graciela, Luciano and her family settled and began assuming positions with groups and to arduously work for the Lord, as they had always done in other cities. Graciela had always stood out for her delicious Durango-style tamales and her “missionary bread,” which acquired fame throughout the country. In addition, Graciela and Luciano were known for always being ready to give lodging to brethren who immigrated, whether they were documented or not.
They were later pastored by Rev. Samuel Arellano at what became the large First Apostolic Church of Chicago. There, the family flourished and became prominent at every level. They later helped found the Third Apostolic Church of Chicago, where they were pastored by Rev. Lupe Zúñiga, until they moved to Phoenix, where they spent the rest of their years living with their son Hugo.
The Lord gave Graciela and Luciano a total of 12 children, although three died at a very early age. They had 32 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren. The years have passed and the family has scattered throughout the states of California, Texas, Arizona, and Illinois. Four of them were ordained, of which three are pastors and one is a lawyer.
Graciela Montes Monarrez, who left to be with the Lord on May 29, lived an abundant and full life. She was not a woman of great economic resources, but she was a woman rich in faith and completely committed to her family, community and service to God. Even though she was not a woman of letters, she helped her children excel academically and spiritually. She didn’t leave her family many material things, but she did leave them something infinitely more valuable: a profound legacy of faith and service.
Visitation is Friday, June 3 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Phoenix First Apostolic Church which is located at 749 E. Baseline Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85042.
Funeral Service will be held Friday, June 3 at 7:00 p.m. at Phoenix First Apostolic Church located at 749 E. Baseline Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85042.
Funeral Service will also be held Saturday, June 4 at 10:00 a.m. at Mountain View Funeral Home which is located at 7900 E. Main Street, Mesa, Arizona 85207.
–Jorge Montes, JD.
May 30, 2016 Chicago, IL