|Fr. Francisco Elizalde LC|
*Translation of the Spanish original text
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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
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