Carlos Suarez Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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Home Parish: St. Joseph-St. Lazarus, East Boston. Seminary: St. John's Seminary, Brighton. High School: Boston Latin. College: Boston University. Hobbies: Music, trying new foods, violin, reading, writing.
When was the first time you thought of priesthood?
I suppose the thought of a priestly vocation has always been with me. I can certainly remember thinking about it since I was six years old. However, for most of my life I fought it off, telling God that there surely must be someone better out there. By the time I got to college though, I realized that perhaps God did know better after all and I should further check this out. It was toward the end of my freshman year of college that I first seriously began discerning a priestly vocation. I attended the cardinal's retreat that year and soon after, I began meeting with a spiritual director. I also felt drawn to religious life at the time and so I began learning more about several religious orders. For a long time I discerned my vocation with the Salesians, but God also began to make it clear that He was calling me to serve Him as a diocesan priest.
What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary? I've attended three World Youth Days so far, ‘00 in Rome, ‘03 in Toronto and ‘05 in Cologne. Each of them was a different experience. Rome took place after I had begun seriously discerning my vocation. I attended it with eight other college students and we first spent a week in Sicily being hosted by a family. It was an interesting experience to see the Church actively lived out in another part of the world. World Youth Day itself in Rome was incredible. It was my second time in Rome, but it had an entirely different feel from when I first went as a high school senior. There was a palpable sense of holiness, and it was during this time that I had some of my strongest experiences of God's presence in my life. 2003 in Toronto was great for me, I went with a group from BU's Catholic Center and we drove up, stopping at the Shrine of North American Martyrs in New York before driving to Toronto. There were so many people in the city and yet I kept running into people I knew. It brought home the reality that the Church really is one large family. As I look back on Toronto, it’s also interesting to note that several people on the trip are either discerning a religious vocation or have actually begun their formation. Cologne was a fantastic trip as well. The same year that I went to WYD in Rome, I had also gone on the cardinal's discernment retreat. I experienced a very strange feeling the first time I entered St. John’s seminary grounds of "coming home.” While I wouldn't enter formation for another few years there was a sense that this is where God wanted me.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? Why?
Psalm 130. It expressed to me how difficult life can be for us at times, and yet how solid our hope is in the Lord.
Matthew 6:33. So often we want to put the world first and then squeeze God in where we can fit Him, but His is a reversal of priorities which in the end will not only leave us dissatisfied but worse, will leave us without God.
Matthew 7:7-8. Again this shows how much God is willing to provide for us if only we trust Him and ask.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That I studied Arabic for almost a year before entering seminary, and I hope to pick it back up someday soon.
Please describe the importance of prayer in your life.
Prayer is the cornerstone of my life. I've been attending daily Mass fairly regularly since I was a sophomore in college, and I find now that when I miss it, there's a deep longing. It's not just part of my routine anymore, it's an essential part of my life. Additionally, I love praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Punctuating your day with psalms and prayers helps to add a steady rhythm around which everything else then becomes anchored, rather than just living a hectic life and then trying to squeeze in prayer where you can.
Through the cardinal, God is calling you personally to help rebuild His Church. How must the priest respond
to this mandate today?
The priest must respond to this mandate by approaching people where they're at, not expecting to find saints off the bat, but certainly finding ways to encourage all people to strive for saintliness. It's important to preach the gospel clearly, making it understandable to all, but not watering it down beyond recognition.
The Pilot, in cooperation with the Office of Vocations, is publishing a series of brief profiles of the men preparing for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston. For other profiles or if you think God may be calling you to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, visit the Vocations Office Web site at www.VocationsBoston.org.