He's only been on the job for about 10 days, but Diego
Marquez, program director of Christ House men's shelter in
Alexandria, sees his new position as a continuation of a life
dedicated to the poor.
"This is the Catholic Church," he said of Christ House,
"serving the least of us."
Marquez, 44, was born in Chicago, where he attended public
schools. He came from a Catholic family, but not a devout
"I found (my) faith as an adult," he said.
After graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago
in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in English, he taught school
in Chicago and attended Mass at St. Rita Church, becoming
active in parish life and serving as a lector.
After 14 years of teaching, he enrolled at Loyola University
Law School in Chicago earning a law degree in 2011. He left
teaching because of a "long-deferred" interest in the law.
When he was in law school he worked as a guardian ad litem
where he represented the interests of children separated from
their parents because of abuse or neglect.
Marquez and his wife Erin attend St. Rita Church in
Alexandria and have been married for four years. The couple
recently moved to the area because of Erin's work with
Partners for the Americas. She previously worked in Libya for
Save the Children and served in the Peace Corps.
Marquez puts his law degree to good use at the St. Anthony
legal clinic on Saturday mornings, where people get free
consultations on a variety of legal issue including
immigration and landlord/tenant disputes.
Before coming to Christ House, Marquez worked for nearly a
year at Catholic Charities' Hogar Immigrant Services in Falls
Church, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting
immigrants. At Hogar, Marquez, who is bilingual, was the
educational service manager, instrumental in developing an
outreach program to the immigrant community.
Coming to Christ House is a natural progression in his life
of service. He knows firsthand the biblical discourse on
feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and welcoming the
"And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you,
whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you
did for me'" (Mt 25:40).
The evening meal at Christ House is a large, community affair
where between 60 and 80 people, including families, are fed
in three shifts by volunteers. Volunteers are the lifeblood
of Christ House and Marquez will be working to grow the more
than 100 volunteers who help at Christ House events.
He also will be working to reinvigorate the mentorship
program, implement a Bible study class and develop a mental
health assessment program for residents - all with a simple
goal in mind.
"We want to honor their dignity, by helping them to become
self-sufficient," said Marquez.
How to help
For volunteer opportunities at Christ House go to ccda.net/volunteer.php.