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Giving God a Chance
INTERNATIONAL | WHO WE ARE | TESTIMONIES
Vocational testimony of Fr. Francisco Elizalde LC

Vocational testimony of the Fr. Francisco Elizalde LC
Fr. Francisco Elizalde LC

*Translation of the Spanish original text

It’s hard for me to say when was the precise moment that I clearly experienced the call to the priesthood. I think that my perception of God’s invitation to the priesthood has been a constant factor in my life, and that the priestly vocation is a continual call of God to be an instrument of his grace.

My vocation story is one of the most normal and ordinary that could exist: I have not had a big conversion; I wasn’t thrown from my horse, and no angel appeared to me to tell me that the Lord was calling me. I discovered it in the ordinary events of life, in that insistent restlessness to be more and more generous with God and in my soul’s deep desire to help the many people who find themselves far from true happiness.

A Normal, But Blessed Childhood
I was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico on November 13, 1973 as the youngest of six children. My father came from Mexico City, while my mother is from San Luis Potosí. I was born in a very normal Catholic family that practiced its faith: Sunday Mass all together, rosary as a family once in a while, evangelization missions once a year, and little more. But at my house, everything was somehow related to God. I remember how my mother would tell us: “If God wills,” or “this is his will,” and when we got up in the morning, we heard: “God be praised! Good morning!”

We are truly a very blessed family because there are three consecrated vocations from my home: my brother, Father Miguel Agustín who is a Legionary priest; my sister, Luz de Lourdes, a consecrated woman in Regnum Christi; and myself. My other three siblings are married.
Vocational testimony of the Fr. Francisco Elizalde LC
Thanks be to God, we always had what we needed at home – in spite of being six children—and we received a good education in our schools.

My childhood and adolescence were like most kids’: school, homework, sports (in my case, basketball), friendships, and my parish youth group. As restless as the next kid, I loved parties, which sometimes ended in fistfights. I disliked studying, and I was chiefly interested in having a good time… until one day—I was about 11 years old—a school friend invited me to a vocational get-together with the Josephine priests, who were the directors of the school. I went there without much of an idea of what it was. That was where, for the first time, I felt the call (or the curiosity) of the vocation. I returned home almost convinced that I had to enter the seminary. But it didn’t go any further than that. I continued my high school studies in the same school and then did prep school at the Monterrey Technological Institute campus in San Luis Potosí.
           
During prep school, my life continued on without many changes: studies, trips with the basketball team to various cities in Mexico, friends, parties, and then the girlfriend… my life was so full of distractions that the idea of the vocation had disappeared. At the same time, I continued participating as a group leader for formation and apostolate with PHI (Integral Human Promotion) which aimed to bring Christ’s message to the university world through the integral formation of the person. This led me to carry on with my normal life as a student (with all that it implies) and on the other hand, I had my life in the parish, with frequent moments of prayer and a concrete apostolic task to fulfill.

My Brother’s Vocation Opens a Door
This was the environment I lived in when an event strongly impressed the whole family: the second-oldest brother in my family told us that he was leaving everything (including his girlfriend, whom he was about to marry) because he wanted to enter the seminary with the Legionaries of Christ. And so it was. After finishing his degree in psychology, he participated in a summer of vocational discernment and entered the novitiate in Cheshire, CT in the United States. That was the moment when the question about the vocation became even more insistent in me: “Could I also have a vocation? Why not give God a chance?”

The year after his entrance into the seminary, in December of 1991, my brother invited me to be with him for some days in the novitiate for Christmas. It was in those two weeks that God gave the final stroke to the question of the vocation question. Almost without realizing it, I already had the answer to my questions. There I found what I had been looking for without knowing it. I was simply impressed with the experience of life in the novitiate: I got along well with the novices, who were only a little older than me. I was impressed by the happiness with which they lived their vocation, and by their charity toward me. I was happy playing soccer with them, eating and talking with them, praying with them. Today I know that it was the Holy Spirit who was discreetly showing me the way. At that time all I knew was that I was having an extraordinarily good time, without being able to explain why. All of the elements that I normally needed to “have a good time” were missing; but the fact is that I was happy in that environment and that I grew in the conviction that if I wanted to be happy in life, I had to be generous.

Upon returning to Mexico, it was just a question of persevering in the decision. I still had two years of prep school to finish, which I lived from then on in a state of constant struggle: on the one hand, I had the desire of being generous with God with the vocation, but on the other hand it was difficult to leave everything behind, especially my own plans, to follow the call. I am very grateful to Father Ricardo Sada, LC, who so patiently helped me to mature the decision.

A Path of Blessings and Battles
Many years have gone by since I decided to participate in that summer of vocational discernment. I have had to overcome many difficulties. But with the grace of God, little by little I was maturing in that initial restlessness, which has led me to understand that the vocation is always God’s initiative, that he was the one who invited me to participate in the greatest gift a person can receive: the priesthood, this configuration with his Son, Jesus Christ. The kind hand of God has led me onward, and now the initial restlessness has become a certainty based on faith that my life has a sense of transcendence, of eternity, and that only by fulfilling God’s will can we find our happiness and complete fulfillment. Much prayer, reflection, sacrifice, and the patient guidance of my superiors have been necessary to reach ordination. 

So, there were no extraordinary signs or miracles. I discovered the vocation deep in my soul, where God calls us to follow him. It is an interior voice that discreetly invites, but always leaves space for our freedom. Whoever decides to be generous, whoever leaves space for God, even in the most ordinary things, will find the happiness that only he can give.

Father Francisco Elizalde was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, on November 13, 1973. He is the youngest of six children from the marriage of Manuel Elizalde and Imelda Martínez. He entered the novitiate of the Legion of Christ in September of 1993 in Cheshire, CT and completed his humanistic studies there. He then went on to Rome to study his license in philosophy and his bachelor’s degree in theology in the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. He has worked as a formator of students of the apost

This testimony is part of the book “Ven y sígueme” (Come and Follow me). In January 2008 you can buy it at www.misionmultimedia.org. It contains 48 testimonies in Spanish, 11 in English and 1 in German.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2007-12-21


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