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?
In my native Colombia I grew up surrounded by poverty. Even though this led me to think that happiness was rooted in material things I found that the more things I had, the sadder I was. After a phase in my life where I found myself unfulfilled, I started joining my mother in the daily prayer of the rosary. Through the rosary I developed a beautiful relationship with God that led me to consider what His will was for me. It was then, that I met so many priests who were full of joy and happy. They had found fulfillment in following God’s call and I thought I could be like them. It was then that, helped by the Neocatechumenal Way, I realized that “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” and I felt called by God to take care of His harvest. Now I am the harvest that God takes care of, and I have never been so happy!
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
The influence of my pastor was very important in my decision to enter the seminary. The love for his ministry and his humility showed me that God is enough. Furthermore, through the celebration of the Word of God and the Eucharist, my Neocatechumenal community helped me to discover the beauty of living a life in accord with the will of God. Along with them I found that God has a plan for everyone and that mine could be to serve the Church as 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?
Prayer is absolutely necessary in the life of a seminarian. Without a strong and stable relationship with God, the life in the seminary can become just a dry routine. I see that through prayer I can lean on God’s mercy and trust in his will. Moreover, God is the one who directs my life and only through prayer I can know and love His will.
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?
I would tell him that to follow the Lord is wonderful. He is always faithful and will never leave him alone. If we do the will of God there is nothing to fear. The words of Pope Benedict XVI come to mind when he said that God does not want to take away anything from us but the contrary, He wants to give us everything!
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
One of the most important aspects in our formation is the development of a close relationship with the Word of God. I see how I find consolation and direction in the Scriptures. Since I entered the seminary they have truly become a rock in my life. It is through them that I have experienced God’s love for me, even when I am not as I am supposed to be.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
To leave behind family and friends is a great challenge. When I first entered the seminary I felt that I lost the security and comfort that I had back home. Then, little by little, I am discovering that God is everything I need. After all, this is in the Gospels, those who leave everything for the Lord will receive a hundredfold.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
Soccer is definitely one of my passions. I enjoy playing it and watching in on TV, especially the Barcelona soccer team. I also like to go to the movies from time to time and to read good spiritual books. My favorite book is “The Story of a Soul,” an autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
I think that sharing the story of our vocation with other men is a wonderful way to encourage vocations to the priesthood. Certainly, every seminarian has a lot to share. I always think that the miracles that the Lord has done in my life are not only for me, but a gift to be shared with others. That is why I think that evangelization is key. To go out and announce the miracles of the Lord will truly enlighten the lives of men who are called by God to be at the service of His people as priests.