A Marine who gave his life to Christ is evangelizing not only in the Diocese of Phoenix, but potentially throughout the whole world as a presenter in The 99, a system for evangelization from Ascension. Read on to learn about Cande DeLeon’s story.
After serving in the United States Marine Corps for four years, Cande graduated from Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He continued his studies and received a master of arts degree in theology for Sacred Scripture at Holy Apostles Seminary and College.
Cande is now the first executive director of the Office of Mission Advancement for the Diocese of Phoenix. He has a sincere desire to serve the Catholic Church. With his leadership and business acumen, he helps parishes with their stewardship, discipleship, and evangelization efforts. He is passionate about his wife of twenty-two years, Rosemary, with whom he has four daughters.
The Ascension Team caught up with Cande and asked him a few questions about his calling to serve the Church.
1. When did you first feel called to evangelize?
December of 2006, I woke up at 2 a.m. in the morning. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had this overwhelming desire to read a book called, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth and Happiness written by Steven K. Scott. I searched everywhere and couldn’t find it. Then I recalled that King Solomon was the author of Proverbs in the Bible, so I searched for a Bible. I found one and before I started reading it on the kitchen table I remembered that my wife, Rosemary, told me if I ever read the Bible I should pray and ask the Holy Spirit for Wisdom.
So I did and started to read Proverbs Chapter 1, and then got to the Scripture that read:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
It was at that exact moment I realized I was the fool. I did not “fear the Lord” and until I understood the importance of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit I could not become wise or truly find the meaning of life. I read all night and was intrigued by the Word of God. It was at that time I went to my wife and said, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but I think God is calling me to evangelize.”
2. Do you remember the first time you stepped forward and shared the gospel with someone?
The first time I shared the gospel I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was I wanted to help people and tell them about Jesus. I would go to anyone I saw on the side of the road looking for food, money, or work and ask them how I could serve them. I would try and get to know them, and once they knew I cared I would ask them if they knew Jesus. From there I let the Holy Spirit lead me.
3. How has your life changed since then?
God has given me everything I have desired. A beautiful wife inside/out, wonderful kids and a dream job of working for God. I lead a team of people that are committed to serving the Lord, and we have all that we need. A beautiful home, our health, and happiness. Before I met the Lord I felt as if I was hanging on by a thread, and my life was insignificant. Now I see how God is using me, and I feel honored that he has asked me to help. My life has deep meaning as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, and servant.
4. Have there been any particularly memorable moments in your life as an evangelist?
I remember standing in the courtyard at the Diocese of Phoenix as I was invited to interview for my current position. Being in awe of what God has done in my life, I recall thinking I am so unworthy of this honor to serve the Church, and only God can allow this to happen.
5. How has evangelization brought you closer to God?
Sharing the good news is a constant reminder to me of the good news. I am a broken and weak person, and I need to hear that God loves me. The more I can share that with people, the more I am reminded that God loves me and has mercy on me. I also think about all the people who have helped me or loved me, and I think, “Wow, God put them in my life for me. That means I am in someone else’s life for them.” Although God can make us feel like the most important person, he can also remind us that he feels that same way about the people in our lives. He has unfailing love for every one of us.
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