If you ask anyone in Bishop about fishing, all fingers will point to Carlos Garza. “He loves to fish,” says Gina Garcia, a clerk at Stripes in Bishop, where Garza makes his daily stop for gas, ice, and coffee.
“He’ll arrive to the store after daily Mass, grab snacks, and head out to the water,” she adds. When Garza returns, he almost always has a stringer full of fish.
“When I head out to the water, I usually catch something,” says Garza, a parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Kingsville, Texas. “Redfish are my favorite, but I’ll take a large drum or trophy trout any day.”
After retiring, Garza picked up fishing as a hobby. He frequently fishes the waters of Baffin Bay in Riviera. “It’s only 30 minutes away, and the fishing is great,” says Garza, as he loads up his old dingy aluminum boat. He checks for his cast net which he uses to catch mullet and piggy perch for bait, then recites the daily prayer before heading out to Drum Point.
It was Drum Point, a popular fishing spot in Riviera known for catching black drum, redfish, and trout, where Garza’s life took an unexpected turn. On a cool, sunny day in January 2004, Garza was fishing alone when he began to reflect on his life. “I wasn’t happy, I was losing control of my family, and my drinking and cursing was getting worse. It wasn’t the life that I wanted.”
Garza recalled speaking to God and asking Him for guidance. “I asked God to forgive me for all of my sins and I gave myself up to Him.” He then placed his fishing rod down, knelt in the middle of the boat and began crying. “I suddenly felt this unexplainable peace within me.”
He left for home immediately to share his story about his encounter with God. “I rushed home and as soon as I saw my wife, I embraced her and told her how much I loved her,” said Garza, as his eyes swelled up with tears. “I then ran to my children and told each of them how much I loved them. They were speechless because it had been a long time since I had told them that.”
A short time after his encounter with God, Garza was back on the boat re-visiting the same spot, however, this trip was not as joyous. The winds were picking up and the waters became choppy.
“A wave threw me overboard and I was hanging on my boat. I knew if I let go, I could’ve been killed by the boat propeller. I was alone and had no one to help me. I remember thinking to myself, ‘God, I just gave up my life to you, how can this be happening?’”
Garza then gained control, switched the motor off and eventually pulled himself up to safety. “I had faith in God and was thankful He was listening,” said Garza with a huge smile.
Garza still fishes and balances his duties as a husband, father, Eucharistic Minister, and religious education teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel. He is frequently asked to lead prayer services and rosaries. He laughs about his fishing experience. “Everybody should fish. Even Jesus tells Simon to go fish!” If you don’t believe me, check out Luke, Chapter 5, verse 4,” says Garza jokingly.
Printed with permission from South Texas Catholic, newspaper from the Diocese of Corpus Christi.