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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Nothing in Life Is by Chance
Father Rodrigo Álex Ramírez Zambrano, LC (Chile)

P. Rodrigo Álex Ramírez Zambrano , L.C.
Fr. Rodrigo Álex Ramírez Zambrano , LC

I never intended to be a priest. Furthermore, I didn’t like the idea. The atmosphere in our family was pious: Sunday Mass, evening rosaries, novenas, and missions. I remember that a Capuchin priest used to send us cards to fill out the number of rosaries offered for vocations. When we reached 50 rosaries we would send him the forms and he would send us back holy cards or medals of Mary or St. Benedict.

I lived in the Chilean city of Talcahuano, in the Bío-Bío region, and I was in my senior year at the Pedro Espina Ritchie High School. I wanted to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, but I could not find a way to prepare for it: the class times at the parish were on Saturday afternoons and at that time I always had chess competitions, which I could not reschedule. At the time I dedicated myself almost professionally to chess: I studied it four hours a day, and had tournaments on Saturdays. In fact, in 1992, I finished 4th in the nation within my category, and I hoped to get the title in 1993 or 1994.

I wanted to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation
In March 1993, as classes began, I had only one thing in mind: to find someone who could prepare me to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. One day, a Legionary of Christ came to our class to give us a talk. The truth is I don’t even remember what he spoke about; the only thing I remember is that I thought that for sure he could help me, or at least put me in contact with someone who could. As he finished giving the talk, he passed out some forms. There was a space to ask for a personal appointment with this religious. I did not hesitate to write down my name, address and phone number, clearly stating the reason why I wanted to talk to him. Soon afterward, my best friend, who at the time was trying to find out if God was calling him to the priesthood, went to visit this priest. He invited me and we went together to the appointment.

After a few meetings with him, he convinced me that he could not prepare me to receive the sacrament of Confirmation; but they invited us to spend some days at the beginning of May in the novitiate the Legion of Christ had in Puente Alto, Santiago. I went. The experience was tremendous. It had a very special “this is your place” feeling. I remember perfectly it was the 1st of May. I was walking through the gardens with my friend and with the priest who invited us and he commented: “This experience did not happen by chance in the plans of God. Meditate on it, ask yourself why he has allowed you to live these days here and what is he asking of you.” It was the only thing I thought of during those days. On the way back to Talcahuano
P. Rodrigo Álex Ramírez Zambrano , L.C.
I told the priest that I wanted him to be my spiritual director and help me see if God wanted me to be a Legionary priest.

It was my last year before college
Although it was naturally difficult for my parents, they supported me from the first moment. I chose a meal some days after visiting the novitiate to tell them the news. I can never forget their faces on that occasion. Even though they advised me to think it through and they wanted to know more about the Legion of Christ, they told me they had no objections. The next months were a time of intense preparation: spiritual life, frequent Masses, more prayer, and helping in the parish (I became a missionary and was named the parish librarian).

Besides, it was my last year before college, and I still had my chess commitments. On the 30th of May I won the “Naval Glories” chess tournament for the first time in my life. I also won the competition organized by the Diego Portales Institute in Santiago. That year I my directed my studies towards mathematics, so as to have the possibility of studying mathematical engineering at the “Universidad de Concepción.” Because of this, all my free time was dedicated to studying math and preparing for the admission exams.

I stayed happy and determined
On December 26th, a more intense period of preparation began: the summer program for vocational discernment at the novitiate in Puente Alto. It was there that I received the results of the admission exams: God had granted me a very high score and when applying for admission in the Universidad de Concepción I was told that I was on the “first option” acceptance list. I could not believe it… and it was, in a sense, a very strong temptation. But the atmosphere of the novitiate beat me again: I stayed happily determined to live my preparation for the priesthood intensely.

The years have gone by quickly since then. After two years in Puente Alto, I moved to Salamanca, Spain, to study Latin and Greek. Followed by Rome and philosophical studies. I returned to Salamanca, this time as professor of classical languages; and then back to Rome to study theology. They were years of preparation, maturing, growth.

If I were to start a “thank you list” here, it would never end. Many people have helped me, and God has always been present to guide my life while seeking to follow his will. Maybe the most important thing about this path, is the clear conscience of leaving the initiative to him, first by convincing myself that this is the best thing I could do with my life, but also through a progressive love, that this is the best way to show Jesus that I love him, by striving to do his will, and pleasing him in everything.

Father Rodrigo Ramírez was born in Talcahuano, in the Bío-Bío region (Chile), on May 1st 1976. He studied at the Escuela México in the same city and at the Pedro Espina Ritchie High School until 1993. On March 5th, 1994 he entered the novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ in Puente Alto, Santiago. He served for four years as professor of classical languages in the center of humanities that the Legion of Christ has in Salamanca, Spain. He has a license degree in Philosophy by the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College of Rome. Presently he studies Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Translation of the vocation story published in the book "Vivir para Cristo"



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