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Judge Speaks from the Heart at National Day of Prayer Event in Santa Maria

The service is one of many planned this week for the Santa Maria Valley Prayer Surge

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores speaks during the National Day of Prayer event at the Santa Maria Fairpark on Thursday. Hundreds of people attended the event, including Sheriff Bill Brown, Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin and Fire Chief Dan Orr.
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores speaks during the National Day of Prayer event at the Santa Maria Fairpark on Thursday. Hundreds of people attended the event, including Sheriff Bill Brown, Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin and Fire Chief Dan Orr. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

With a heavy workload four years ago, Judge Rogelio Flores said he had decided not to oversee the new Veterans Treatment Court, but changed his mind while on an airplane where he and other passengers became increasingly irked at delays.

A sight outside the plane changed his mind and his attitude — crews were loading a casket carrying a soldier’s body.

“I thought to myself, ‘Rogelio, what that service member would not do to have another 50 minutes to spend with his family to say goodbye, to hug his children,” said Flores, who leads the Santa Maria Veterans Treatment Court. “God answers prayers in the weirdest ways.”

In a speech that brought laughter, tears, applause and “amens,” Flores was the keynote speaker for the 18th annual Santa Maria Valley National Day of Prayer at the Santa Maria Fairpark on Thursday. The event was one of many planned this week for the Santa Maria Valley Prayer Surge.

Flores, North County’s longest-serving Superior Court judge, said his parents instilled faith in him, and went on to explain how prayer has shaped his life.

“For today’s purpose, let’s agree on a few principles — prayer is how we talk to God," he said. "Prayer is not just asking for stuff. And sometimes, and in my case all the time, we pray even though we don’t know we’re praying. See, my life is a prayer in everything I do, I offer it up from the moment I wake up until the time I go to bed.”

Upon being asked to speak at the prayer event, Flores, 61, said he was humbled, adding that the request came as he struggled with personal and professional challenges in addition to the aches and pains of growing old.

“My faith had been shaken and every time in my life when things seem to get out of sorts I’m reminded of the awesome power of our God,” Flores said. “Being here today is an answered prayer for me.”

day of prayer
Community and faith leaders salute the flag during the National Day of Prayer service on Thursday at the Santa Maria Fairpark. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

He noted he has many friends who say they don’t know how to pray. 

“The first thing I want to tell then is, ‘Well, you can’t ask Siri,’” Flores said. 

While he remembers the prayers he learned in catechism, Flores said he doesn’t recall the first time he had a focused conversation with God.

However, faith remained a part of his life through the years, according to Flores who served in church musical groups.

“I’m convinced that if you sing you pray twice and if you play an instrument and sing for his greater glory, that’s a triple play,” Flores said.

Another lesson about prayer came while he worked as a young attorney in Los Angeles. Flores recalled his wife and first-born child nearly dying as he waited alone. A a nurse approached and offered to pray with him. Later, he tried to track down the nurse, but no one on staff recognized the description.

“But I still thank her every day — even today,” Flores said. “She taught me that it’s OK to pray out loud, to petition God for help, and to give thanks and praise for answered prayers.”

Also at Thursday's event, Mayor Alice Patino read a National Day of Prayer proclamation, and called on those in attendance to pray for state and national leaders.

“The mayor’s right," Dave Brogan from Heritage Church. "We need to pray for all our leaders — not just the ones we like.”

Thursday’s event included a free lunch provided by the Santa Maria Noontime Kiwanis Club.

Kathy Staples from the Community of Prayer Inc. nonprofit organization presented a plaque Roger Wheeler, pastor emeritus from Santa Maria Foursquare Church in recognition of his long support of the prayer event.

Among other Prayer Surge events, a prayer walk and community event are planned Saturday for the Unity in Community, starting at 9 a.m. at the Santa Maria Public Library parking lot. The route will take walkers down Broadway to Morrison Avenue to Thornburg Street to end at the Fairpark. The community event celebration will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will include dozens of booths. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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