Jefrey Barrantes Pilot photo/ George Martell, Office for Vocations
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Home Country: Costa Rica. Seminary: Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan House of Formation.
High School: Instituto Julio Acosta Garcia. College: Universidad de Costa Rica. Hobbies: Music, playing the guitar, reading and walking.
When was the first time you thought of priesthood?
The first time I thought of the priesthood was in 2004 in a meeting with Kiko Arguello, the initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way.
What was your involvement in parish life before entering the seminary?
Apart from joining a Neocatechumenal community in my parish when I was 14 years old and celebrating the word of God and the Eucharist with them, I worked for one year with a missionary priest in my country assisting in the pastoral work of the parish.
Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.
A priest from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Guadalajara, Mexico, who was part of my parent’s Neocatechumenal community in Costa Rica inspired me to the priesthood. His simplicity, humility and witness of life showed me that it is possible to be a holy priest.
Please tell us, what are some of the most important parts of discernment?
The first thing is to be open and to surrender one’s own will in order to do the will of God. Then, one should listen closely to a spiritual director and remain in constant prayer.
Is seminary formation what you thought it would be? How is it similar or different from your expectations?
Seminary formation is different from what I expected. At first, I thought the seminary would be like a closed permanent cloister. However, it is quite different. In the seminary, there is time for recreation and pastoral work in parishes where I can participate in Christian formation.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
In September 2006 I participated in a retreat where 250 young men were sent by lottery to every part of the world to be missionaries.
What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture of vocations?
Youth meetings in parishes in which priests or religious may give a public testimony to encourage young people to consecrate their lives to Christ in the priesthood or religious life.
How did you come to know Jesus Christ?
I have come to know Jesus Christ through my parents who transmitted the faith to me since I was a child. Then my faith deepened upon hearing a series of catechesis of the Neocatechumenal Way which invited me to an itinerary of Christian formation.
What was your career or background before entering the seminary?
Before entering the seminary, I studied industrial engineering for five years. I tried to live a good moral life. I would go out with friends trying to avoid the vices that ensnare many young people today. After studies, I tried to look for a job and I participated in a vocational awareness group. I was soon sent on a missionary trip in my country. Finally, after a retreat in 2006, I was sent to the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation in Boston as a missionary.
What signs led you to believe that God was calling you to be a priest?
I heard the call to priesthood in a meeting with the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way in my country where I heard the kerygma (proclamation) of the Good News and we were invited to be open to the priesthood.
Please describe the importance of prayer in your life.
Prayer allows me to have an intimate, personal relationship with God. It allows me to intercede for the needs of my relatives and friends and to acquire the obedience I need for the disciplined life of the seminary.
What are some of your favorite and most important spiritual readings/books/passages?
A scriptural passage I consider important for my vocation is the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of Matthew. It gives me the guarantee of eternal life and helps me in the itinerary of Christian life.
What is your day like in the seminary?
In the morning we pray lauds together with the Eucharist. Then we have breakfast. After breakfast, we go to the university (in my case, I go to Boston University to study English). In the afternoon, I return home and study. We have evening prayer together as a community and then dinner. There is time for recreation and formational events in the evening. We conclude with night prayer.
Through the cardinal, God is calling you personally to help rebuild his Church. How must the priest respond to this mandate today?
I think the priest today must rebuild the Church through the concrete acts of his life. He should be an icon of Jesus Christ. He should lay down his life for the sake of the Gospel, announcing the Kingdom of God in season and out of season to all parts of society.
It is important to foster vocations in the family. The family is the garden for the “budding” of vocations. Parents should encourage their children to the possibility of a religious vocation.
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.