Andres Fernandez Pilot photo/ Courtesy Vocations Office
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Our Lady of the Assumption, East Boston
Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan
Missionary House of Formation
North Cambridge Catholic High School
Drawing, playing soccer, video games
When was the first time you thought of priesthood?
The first time I thought of the priesthood was in the World Youth Day of Toronto in 2002. I was 15 at the time and the idea of becoming a priest interested me.
What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary?
I participated in World Youth Day in Toronto and Cologne (2005). I also attended for three years the vocational discernment center in Newark, N.J.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? Why?
My favorite Scripture passage is of the book of Psalms 121:1-8. I like this passage like many of the psalms because it talks about the loving relationship that we can have with God. God as our creator will protect us in all the circumstances and he wants to help us to be happy.
Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.
I was inspired to the priesthood by the priests and seminarians of the Neocatechumenal Way. I saw priests that were really happy doing their ministries and seminarians that were very joyful. Both while attending the vocational center in Newark and also meeting the seminarians when they would come for holidays and stay at our parish, my contact with them inspired me to think about the priesthood.
Please tell us, what are some of the most important parts of discernment?
I believe the most important parts in discernment are prayer and patience. First to pray so that God may show one the path to follow and second to be patient so that we may wait for Godís time to see clear what is his will on any given vocation.
Is seminary formation what you thought it would be? How is it similar and different from your expectations?
In some ways it is similar and in other ways it has been surprising. Similar in the sense that, having visited another Redemptoris Mater Seminary before, I had already some idea of how a normal day in the life of the seminary would be, such as praying the office [of readings] every day and scrutinizing the word of God every week. I felt it surprising, on the other hand, especially the first year, in that we lived two-by-two in rectories throughout the archdiocese. Besides helping in the liturgy sometimes, there were other pastoral activities that we did that left a deep impact on me, such as visiting a nursing home on Sundays or going to visit the parishioners with one of the priests. And all this before I even started theology!
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Maybe that my family and I came to Boston in 1996 as a missionary family sent by the Holy Father, John Paul II, at the request of Cardinal Bernard Law.
What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture of vocations?
To foster a culture of vocations I would recommend meetings for vocations to all interested; I would recommend and encourage reading the lives of the saints; and I would also recommend opening the Neocatechumenal Way in more parishes in the archdiocese as these communities are a vital source of vocations, not just to the priesthood, like mine, but also to the religious life.
Did anyone invite you to consider priesthood? Please explain.
There have been priests and seminarians from the Neocatechumenal Way that have invited me to consider the priesthood. I received their invitations especially while attending the World Youth Day gatherings.
What influence (if any) has Pope John Paul II had on your vocation?
Pope John Paul II has had a big influence as well on my vocation. In every World Youth Day he encouraged vocations. I saw in him an example of how to live a holy life and for me to consider the priesthood is a way to follow in his footsteps. I would like to have the spirit that John Paul II had of living for the Church, both when he was strong and vibrant and when he became weak and very sick, still serving the Church as a beacon of hope and an example of a life spent for the Gospel; everything he did was for the flock and to strengthen the Church as well.
How did you come to know Jesus Christ?
I came to know Jesus Christ first of all from the way my parents lived. To go to a foreign country as a mission family to serve the needs of the Church there was a strong sign for me. My parents had an encounter with Christ and their faith reflected it. Then, through the Neocatechumenal Way, I discovered how Jesus Christ loved me for the way I am and with all my sins. This encounter with Christ filled me with gratitude and a desire to repay him for his love to me in the form of the vocation to the priesthood.
What were the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and shape your personal relationship with Christ and his Church?
The gatherings, the participating at the Saturday Eucharist with the community as well as the catechesis and pilgrimages of the Neocatechumenal Way are what helped me to develop a personal relationship with Christ.
What are some of your favorite and most important spiritual readings/books/passages?
My favorite spiritual books are the lives of the saints and the martyrs. I like to read their lives because they show me how far the relationship with God can go and how much these holy men and women resembled Christ especially through martyrdom.
What is your day like in the seminary?
In the Redemptoris Mater Seminary we wake up at 6:45 a.m. and then do morning prayer. After breakfast we go to classes at St. Johnís Seminary and there we pray midday prayer. When we have lectures in the afternoon we also have lunch there with the rest of the seminarians. After school we return to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, we study in the afternoon, we do evening prayer within the Eucharist, we have dinner, we pray night prayer, and then we go to rest.
Through the cardinal, God is calling you personally to help rebuild his Church. How must the priest respond to this mandate today?
With praise and gratitude. To be a priest is an honor and to participate in the task of rebuilding the Church is still a greater honor. I believe a priest must respond to this mandate today with obedience and humility, confident that in serving the Church through the cardinal he is ultimately serving God and doing Godís will.
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.