|Fr. Juan Carlos Hernández Torres , LC|
I had the inestimable grace of being born in
a terrific Christian family in San Miguel el Alto, Jalisco.
My parents started their family while they were young and
had six children: five boys, of which I am the
fourth and one girl. I have some great memories of
Christian living such as praying the Rosary in the family
each Saturday of the year and all the days of
the month of May; the Mass dedicated to the Holy
Trinity all the first days of the month in which
way I saw my father participate in a special; the
respect and the veneration for priests, especially those whom the
family dealt with, etc. All this helped without a doubt
to cultivate the ground in which God would deposit the
seed of my vocation.
My childhood was peaceful and typical
of any boy of that age, although with some surprises.
The first memory I have is that of struggling under
water. This happened when I was only a few months
old and I was about to drown at the beach.
Since I was three, I studied in a school run
by religious sisters in my town. The studies were very
demanding and I came close to repeating a school year.
I spent the majority of my evenings with friends from
school that I had known since kindergarten. We formed a
soccer and baseball team together and made for a very
united group, especially when it came to homework and fights.
One year two of them went to the summer program
in the apostolic school in Leon but discovered that it
was not their vocation.
The sport I dedicated most time and
effort to was Tae Kwon Do. I had the fortune
of having a master of great spiritual and human standards.
Even though we were a group of preadolescents, he always
treated us like adults and passed on the human virtues
that the art teaches. Another sport which I dedicated a
lot to, thanks to my older brother, was archery and
At an early age I also began to draw
and paint. I started to sell my pictures to my
mother, from whom I inherited my painting ability. Accompanying my
father to his work, I went to learn the art
of commerce. I remember having put my first business together
(selling knickknacks) with two other associates at the age of
nine, and at ten my father bought me fifty little
chickens to make my savings. Really, my task was very
easy: guard them every evening until they got big enough
so the rats couldn’t eat them. My father gave me
the land, the food, and the cages, but in the
end the earnings were mine.
One day a priest came
to my school that presented himself as a “Legionary of
Christ.” At my young age I still could not distinguish
between a diocesan priest and a religious. But two things
caught my attention and for me they were a cause
of interest: the fact that he dressed like a priest,
and the enthusiasm he radiated. I had never seen a
priest play soccer, and so well besides.
During the talk,
Father Enrique Flores told us that the only important thing
was to get to heaven and that this was achieved
only through loving God and being in the state of
grace. He also spoke to us about the seminary in
Mexico City. After the talk and the soccer game I
forgot about it all until one day Father Enrique showed
up at my house along with my best friend, with
whom I had just finished fighting, inviting me to get
to know the apostolic school in Leon. For me it
was a surprise to see Father Enrique at my house,
and the reason was that this friend had told him
that I wanted to go to the seminary. After the
surprise I didn’t have a choice but to say yes.
During the visit to the apostolic school in Leon, I
noticed the charity with which the “brother apostolics” (as we
were used to calling them) dealt with each other and
with us. I saw them happy and enthusiastic with their
vocation and they were able to communicate this interior wealth.
But my vocation stirrings really started when Father Enrique told
me that all the Legionaries are very close to the
Pope, that they are ready for whatever mission that he
may give to them and that there were also some
who got to greet him and serve his Masses. God
made use of this enthusiasm to bring me later on
to the deeper motives for self-giving to the religious life
and the priesthood.
When the school year finished, Father Enrique
invited me to the summer program in the apostolic school
in Leon. In the beginning I said yes, since I
wanted to escape some math classes that my mom had
organized for me during the summer. Later I began to
doubt when I got to know the plans for our
family vacation… But I had already given my word.
days in the apostolic school were fundamental for the strengthening
of my budding vocation. The great spirit, the charity, and
the joy that reigned in the apostolic school helped me
start this adventure. I give thanks to God and my
parents for having helped me in those moments of difficulty
and for encouraging me at all times, considering that the
distance was very hard for them.
I did three years
of secondary school in the apostolic school of Leon and
later I changed to the apostolic school of Ajusco, in
Mexico City. These years were very beautiful, years of knowledge
and growth in love for my vocation. I give thanks
to God for having called me at this age and
for having given me the gift of excellent formators: holy
men filled with the priestly and religious spirit.
After an intense
period of prayer and discernment I received the Legionary uniform,
the cassock, and I began my novitiate in Salamanca, Spain.
The novitiate is the school where one learns to live
like Christ, and to feel and think like Christ. This
is the most difficult work in the life of every
Christian but an essential one in the life of a
religious and priest. I remember this period as one of
the best of my life, and I go back continually
in spirit to those two years.
I continued my formation
in this same center of Salamanca studying humanities and sciences.
At the end I had the grace to form part
of the first group of Legionaries to study philosophy in
Thornwood, New York.
After two years I went to Colombia
to do youth ministry and vocation promotion for two years
and later I went to Barquisimeto, Venezuela to help as
a formator in the apostolic school the Legion has there.
They were years full of graces on the part of
God our Lord and much learning in the art of
the apostolate. After these four years, I went to Rome
to finish my university studies.
Looking back, I see clearly
the loving and provident hand of Christ that has guided
me during almost 20 years of priestly formation for the
priesthood. A hand that I always saw in this long
path in which there has been no lack of difficulties.
For this reason, I give thanks to God for the
unmerited gift of the priestly vocation in the Legion of
Christ and also to the Most Holy Virgin for her
loving presence of a Mother and companion during all my
life. In the second place I give thanks to my
family for having educated me in the Christian home and
for having supported me in my vocation. At the same
time I thank our founder and all my Legionary formators
for having been patient and docile instruments in the hands
of God and for having been fathers and teachers in
the different stages of my formation.
I am happy to
know that I am in the path that God has
planned for me from all eternity and happy for having
been chosen by Jesus Christ in the greatest undertaking, which
is the salvation of souls.
Father Juan Carlos Hernandez Torres
was born in San Miguel el Alto, Jalisco (Mexico) in
1977. He entered the apostolic school in 1989 at the
age of eleven. He did his secondary school studies in
the city of Leon, Guanajuato and the diploma in the
apostolic school in the apostolic school in Ajusco, in Mexico
City. He did his novitiate and humanities in Salamanca, Spain.
He had a license in philosophy and a baccalaureate in
theology from the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. He
did youth ministry and vocation promotion in Bogota and Medellin,
Colombia. He was a member of the team of formators
in the apostolic school in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He now works
in youth ministry and vocational promotion in Puebla, Mexico.