Mexico City Temple leader devoted lifetime to Church

A quest to "influence a little to make a big difference" has been the lifelong motto of pioneer Church leader and attorney Agricol Lozano.

Pres. Lozano, 67, newly called president of the Mexico City Temple and the first native of Mexico City to serve as stake president, was instrumental, as the Church's legal counsel here, in the recent recognition of the Church by the government of Mexico.He has served in many capacities in the Church and is known for his brilliance as an attorney and his penchant for excellence. His ardor for the gospel and for his homeland is almost legendary. He is a former regional representative and has served as president of the Argentina Bahia Blanca Mission.

"He is among a small handful of people who have had decisive influence on the growth of the Church in Mexico," said Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy, a longtime associate of Pres. Lozano and recently returned from serving as president of the Mexico South Area.

"He is one of those who has seen the Church grow and provided advice to the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve since 1961."

Rex E. Lee, president of BYU and a former missionary in Mexico, is also well-acquainted with Pres. Lozano.

"The name Agricol Lozano is probably as closely tied to the development of the Church in Mexico in this century as any other name," said Pres. Lee. "His father before him bore the same name, and was one of the outstanding and prominent leaders of the Church during the 1950s when I was a missionary there. Young Agricol was then a young married man, already establishing himself as being totally devoted. Over the years since then, Agricol has lent his skills as a lawyer and administrator to the building of the kingdom of God in that important country."

Pres. Lozano said his life changed in the 1940s after hearing the words of Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Council of the Twelve, discussing the future of the Lamanites and how they would "blossom as a rose."

Brother Lozano, then a returned missionary and student at the University of Mexico, and a few friends had gone on an annual bus excursion from Mexico City to the Arizona Temple. While there, he heard Elder Kimball speak. His words that day had an impact on Brother Lozano's life forever.

"I remember leaving the conference and going into a room where I could be alone to think about what I had just heard," he recalled. "It was at that moment I realized I could do anything I wanted to in this life."

Afterward, another event happened that was almost as influential. "I remember being on the temple grounds with a couple friends, just thinking and meditating, when a man dressed in white approached me and told me I would become a lawyer and do great things for the Church."

Following this encouragement, Pres. Lozano eventually decided to become "not only a good lawyer, but the best lawyer in Latin America."

His goal was to first, advance the Church, and second, improve respect for the Mexican people. He is eager to see that all citizens of this nation are respected by others.

The Church leader was born to convert parents in Tula, Mexico. His mother, Josefina, had worked for Raphael Monroy, one of the martyrs for the Church featured in the film "And Should We Die." She introduced the gospel to her husband, Agricol, and taught him to read using the Book of Mormon as the text.

Their son Agricol was the eldest of 13 children. He was given special attention by his parents.

"My mother frequently told me I was here for a special purpose," recalled Pres. Lozano. "I remember being taught at a young age the principles of the Church and how important it is to live the gospel and to be worthy for the Spirit of the Lord."

Helping his brick-layer father and learning this trade didn't leave young Agricol much time for school. At his mother's insistence, though, he continued his schooling. He earned money for school expenses by gathering and selling kindling wood and scrap metal. He finished grade school at 16 years of age.

But education wasn't his only challenge while growing up. Because of his small stature, he was teased and tormented by other children. As a result of this torment, and from having to defend himself, he gained athletic abilities as a boxer and a soccer player. He also was the state champion in the 200-meter, and 1,500-meter races for three successive years. It was his talent for soccer that prompted him to leave Tula and go to Mexico City in an attempt to play professional soccer.

He did not make the team but he was not defeated. "I took it as a sign that I was meant for other things in my life," he said.

He accepted a mission call and served with distinction. "I knew the gospel very well," he recalled. He remembers his companions being amazed at how such a young man could know so much about the doctrines of the Church.

After his mission, he worked as a custodian in Mexico City's famous Museum of Anthropology and History. The educated men he associated with at the museum encouraged him to return to school.

He began his high school education where, once again, his peers were impressed by his knowledge and leadership abilities. Following high school, he entered the University of Mexico.

In order to reach his goal to become an attorney, he cut back his amount of sleep to two or three hours each night. He spent several years in school, working and studying during the long nights.

While attending the university, he was the leader of progressive student groups. One of his most faithful supporters was Rosa Malinche Gomez. They were later married and eventually had their marriage sealed in the Salt Lake Temple.

After he completed his studies, he became an attorney for some of the most prominent unions in Mexico.

He is currently working primarily for the Church. "Because the Church asked me to give of my legal expertise I would say that means I achieved my goal [of being a top lawyerT," Brother Lozano said.

In addition to practicing law, he also writes Church books. He has written several books to help increase respect by members across the world for Mexicans, and has written books to help the youth gain a better understanding and knowledge of Jesus. He also wrote a history of the Church in Mexico, called, Historia Del Mormonismo en Mexico.

Brother Lozano's life has been an example of one who has devoted his energy to intense service in the Church. Supported by his wife, Malinche, and his six children, Brother Lozano has served in many callings in the Church including elders quorum president, branch president, regional representative, mission president, and stake president.

It was while serving as stake president that he decided to help the members learn the value of being on time. "I would allow the member to set the time for his appointment and if he wasn't there right on time I would leave and return in five or 10 minutes and I would continue to do this until they showed up," he said. "Then they would usually tell me they had been waiting for me the whole time."

He also taught that their appearance at Church was an important part of showing respect for the Lord.

Because of his intensity, he is occasionally perceived as an austere man.

"Many people think I'm an austere man who doesn't know how to love," he said. "I guess my next mission in life is to show people I truly am capable of love."

He's also set an example by accepting callings. He will continue to set an example in many ways as he presides over the work in the Mexico City Temple.

He recently told a friend that "I'm going to be the best temple president that I know how to be. For one thing, I'm going to be there at the foot of the stairs to welcome every bus that comes to the Mexico City Temple. When the door swings open, I'll be there to welcome the patrons."

Reminded that occassionally buses arrive at 3 a.m., he said, "On those nights, I will sleep at the temple."

That is a typical response of one who has always been determined to fight against the adversary, convert his weaknesses into strengths, and to serve wherever he is called to the best of his ability.

It is no surprise that the Church and its members in Mexico have been greatly influenced by his life.

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