What are some of the factors that led to your decision to enter the seminary and discern the question of a vocation to the priesthood
Practically, what led me to join the seminary was insecurity. I am from El Salvador and since I came to the United States my plans were to go to college, get my degree in Computer Science and get married. However I felt that I had to do something else. I felt that I had to do something for God. I felt the need to serve God. So I joined an altar servers ministry, as I did back in my country to try to fulfill this feeling but in both cases I felt it wasn't enough. Then a good friend of mine invited me to join a youth group which invitation I accepted. I joined a charismatic youth group which was a good decision because it helped me to re-discover my faith but again I felt it wasn't enough. I knew that I had been avoiding something, this was trying to become a seminarian. For a long while I had tried to "fulfill" this call by lying to myself saying that I couldn't be called to priesthood. This insecurity of knowing or not if I was being called to priesthood was what led to join the seminary, in order to find an answer.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
The people who had a big influence in my decision to join the seminary were three humble priests who I liked to address when I felt confused. Also some good friends from a charismatic group I attended to. All of them supported me to try to join the seminary and they encouraged me to do so especially those priests who with their own example were giving me a true testimony of the joy of being a priest.
What would you say is the role of prayer in the life of a seminarian and what effect does it have on one's ability to see God's call?
The role of prayer, in both the life of a seminarian and man in discernment is fundamental. Going to mass every day, receiving the sacraments and praying in private and in community, guide us closer to God and by being close to him we can see more clearly his will. By praying we also find peace, peace that is not easily found in another place. And in this praying life we start to think according to God's will and not according to what people would say or what people would think or what problems and sins I have. We start to imitate Christ.
What advice would you give to a man who thinking about his vocation and is considering that God may be calling him to be a priest?
Do not be afraid. Do not worry. Look for a good priest to address your questions or doubts. If you haven't started to have a praying life, I recommend you to do so. You are either called to priesthood or called to have an amazing experience in the seminary that would help you to be a good christian person in your future plans, either getting married, being single or getting a good job.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
The peace in my heart that I am doing something for God and for people and the amazing adventure of discovering a new love, a divine love and a love that has no limits.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
If it is similar to my case. There could be two big challenges that a man considering the seminary could have. The first one, not having his own family. By this I mean the fact that they will never get married and have their own "family". The second one, the "freedom" they wont have by being a seminarian or priest. However I would like to say that seminarians and priest do have a big family and a great amount of freedom, true freedom. We get to love people that see us as their father, their spiritual father. And we get to have the same freedom that Jesus talks about. The freedom of being from this world but not being tied to it.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
On my free time I like to practice some piano, I am not good at it but it relaxes me. I also like to see movies, especially movies that have a deep meaning of life. Talking and playing with my friends is also something I enjoy on my free time.
What are some of your favorite authors/books/movies?
I don't really have a favorite singer but some of the ones that I would consider my favorite singers are Demi Lovato, a choir which is called Libera, a Spanish singer called Martin Valverde and Jesus Adrian Romero.
I have lots of favorite movies but a couple of the best ones I have watched are. For a Greater Glory, The Big Miracle, Holy Father Pio, UP, Inception, Frozen and Free Birds.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
To have more retreats and more active parishes where people can go for holy hours or where youth people could attend to a youth group dedicated to preach the Gospel and praise God and enjoy their youth together as Christian people.