Reverend Dr. Ignacio Castuera

Minister, Member, Latino Leadership Council

“God made us in his image and likeness; that means he gave us the authority to make decisions and to accept the result of those decisions. When one sees the unnecessary suffering of so many people, as I have through these 50 years of ministry, one wonders, ‘Does God really want these people to be suffering?’”

Holidays are the Perfect Time to Share End-of-Life Wishes

Excerpted from the Bakersfield Californian

By Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera

We plan the fancy meal, cover the tree with sparkling lights and wear our sharpest outfits. But it’s only when a crisis hits that we are forced to plan the final phase of our lives. Talking about death is never easy. And with the holidays, some believe it’s even worse. It shouldn’t be. The holidays, when family is together, is a perfect time to talk to our parents, our abuelitos and our loved ones about sharing end-of-life wishes — while we have the chance.

As a minister, I have been blessed to counsel many people as they prepare for the end of their lives. I have learned that most people prefer to die without experiencing excruciating pain and unnecessary suffering from a terminal illness. They want the option of “going to sleep” in their warm beds, listening to their favorite music, surrounded by the people they love. Why should terminally ill people have to suffer needlessly from relentless pain against their will at the end of life? Why do they have to endure medical interventions that often produce more pain than relief, leaving many patients a shell of the person they used to be?

Death should be a time of peace, not a time of stress because no one bothered to have a conversation about their own or their loved ones’ end-of-life wishes. Let’s make the most of our family gatherings. Let’s start end-of-life conversations with our parents and our abuelitos to learn about the kind of medical care they would or would not want at the end of their lives. As a family of God, we are called to act with compassion and goodwill to help make aid in dying an open and accessible medical practice. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, very patient and full of faithful love. The Lord does not want his children to suffer. So why are we allowing it as a society?


Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, an Emmy-award-winning journalist dubbed the “Latino Walter Cronkite” interviewed Reverend Dr. Ignacio Castuera for Al Punto (To the Point) to discuss the importance of medical aid in dying among Latino and Hispanic communities.

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