June 4, 2011
St. John’s Boston
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Springfield, MA
Tell us about your family background.
I am the middle of three children, but was raised as the oldest. My older sister was given up in a closed adoption. My younger sister and I were raised by my mom in an apartment in Northfield. We grew up without a lot, but with a great sense of our faith. My father was never married to my mom, and he left when I was nine for Puerto Rico, where he was born. He died from colon cancer when I was twelve. About five years ago I finally met my older sister, who grew up just thirty minutes away from where I did. She is now one of my best friends. My younger sister has a seven year old daughter, who is my niece and Goddaughter.
Can you point to a time in your life where your faith began to deepen significantly?
I went on an Antioch Retreat the summer of my freshman year in High School, where I believe I received the call to priesthood during a Charismatic prayer session. From that retreat on I devoted myself to learning more about my faith so that I could share it with my peers. This was tough at a secular boarding school, but it also gave me something worth fighting for.
When did you first think about the possibility of priesthood? What happened in your life to lead you to apply for seminary?
It was during that retreat and subsequent retreats that I began to see that Christ was calling me to be a priest. I eventually entered a program for Priestly formation at Franciscan University of Steubenville, studying theology and philosophy. It was during a visit to Rome during my sophomore year there, when I saw St John Paul II the last time from the window of the Papal Apartments. I somehow in that moment knew that I wanted to be a priest for the Diocese of Springfield. It wasn’t until graduation from Steubenville that I applied to be a seminarian.
What are your greatest joys in the priesthood?
Besides being able to say Mass and hear confessions, my deepest joys are being able to bring souls to Christ in preaching and trying to live the Gospel message. It is amazing to see the encounters people have with Christ through my weak instrumentality. Lately my ministry has been transformed by a recovery program from food addiction. As I lose weight and strive to live the 12 steps of recovery, I have been given a great gift of connecting to people who are struggling with the chains of addiction. Seeing freedom in Christ happen is the joy of all the saints.
What advice do you have for a young man considering the priesthood?
Stay true to the intuitions that you feel God is giving to you about serving him as a priest. It is a noble calling, worth giving up your worldly ambitions. Be close to the sacraments, strive to learn your faith and share it as much as possible. Be aware of your struggles and be honest with a spiritual director. This will not only help you to be the best person you can be, but will help you to connect with the lost sheep whom you, God willing, will serve in the future. You have my prayers.