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?
I was already 57 when the Lord called me to the priesthood. I saw how he first brought me to a community and after twelve years of walking, “invited” me to be an itinerant missionary. It was during my fourth year of being an itinerant that I finally heard his call. So being in a community was a big factor for rediscovering the call of God towards the priesthood. It was through frequent celebration of the Word of God, the Eucharist, the sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation and being with the brothers and sisters led me to where I am today.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
Fr. Jose Luis Arrieta, the presbyter and our catechist was a big sign and help for me. I witnessed how unselfish he was. He gave his life to his spiritual children even up to the very last days of his life. He was a brother and a spiritual father not only to me, but to many. It would be difficult to follow his footsteps, but to keep in mind his spirit of service and dedication is enough for me.
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 in the life of a seminarian is fundamental and essential. It is as important as the air we "breathe," and to pray is also like entering into a “battle” because it is not easy to pray. We need to ask the Lord to give us the grace to know “how to pray.” The common prayer we recite everyday together with the rest of the brothers is a good start and helps us to develop a “taste” for prayer. Eventually, we grow into it and spend more time with God alone. This will help us be more attuned not only to God’s calling but also to doing His will as well.
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?
First, it would be good to talk to a priest about ‘the calling’ they may have. The priest would be able to help them discern and pray for them. Regular reception to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance would of course be an advantage. It is also important “not to be afraid.” Remember that the Lord comes not to take anything away from us, but rather to give us something more than we truly deserve.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
The Christmas concert we had was one of the exceptional activities that I like most in the seminary. Seminarians do it every single year. It comes in the most “inconvenient” time: when we are preparing for exams, finishing papers in school, etc. and in-between we have to rehearse and learn some new songs in a short time. It is very very stressful. But here I saw how the grace of God works, because in the end everything turned out well. We enjoyed the singing and we were able to bring the joy and spirit of Christmas to the many people who listened to us, including the retired priests of Regina Cleri (the retirement home for the senior priests of the Archdiocese of Boston).
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
I think one of the greatest challenges for someone who is considering the seminary is not being able to be a father of a family and yet I see that God gives to those who answer his call, a different kind of family with no “boundaries”; a family that He trust us to be fathers to.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
I find reading the lives of saints very interesting during my free-time. Reading about the saints helps us to get to know them and they eventually become our friends. Knowing the saints is like having an elder brother or sister that we can always be with. In my free time, I also enjoy going to the movies.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston?
I would recommend that men attend the Vocation Discernment Retreat hosted by the Vocation Office. Those discerning their vocation can see that they are not alone, and that God calls them from wherever and however they are. It would also be helpful to have a vocation group in the parish that through regular meetings would be able to provide a space for those discerning their vocations to pray and share their experiences.