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Turn to Jesus (Article)

I Told Him I Wanted to Be His Friend Forever
Father Edmundo Ponce Díaz, LC (Mexico)

P. Edmundo Ponce Díaz , L.C.
Fr. Edmundo Ponce Díaz , LC

My vocation story is like any other, in that the most important thing is not what I did or did not do, nor even the specific way God called me. The most important thing is the God who called me, who gave me certain qualities, and who shaped the events in my life to make me his priest. I do not know why God called me, but I will say why I followed him, just in case it could help someone to find God’s call in his life or to thank God with me for having called me.

A happy childhood
I was born on April 29, 1978, in Mexico City, but I spent almost my whole childhood in my father’s hometown, Hidalgo City, Michoacán.

I am the oldest of three sons, and I have a lot of cousins on my father’s side, since he was the second of seventeen children. My mother, the only girl in her family, has four brothers. She is a very hard worker, has a very strong character, and taught us very well in our discipline, order, and education. My father taught us to value work and to be responsible in our studies. They both taught us how to love God, respect Him, and give Him the first place in our lives. I thank my parents with all my heart for educating me, even though I made their task so difficult so often. Both of my grandparents on my father’s side have passed away, but they gave me a great example of faith and closeness to God. My grandparents on my mother’s side passed away before I was born, so I never had the joy of knowing them.

While I was a boy, I did what boys do: go to school, play, pull pranks on people, collect stamps, only wanting to live every moment to the full. My favorite pastimes were to play soccer, read the comics, go on trips, talk, learn about animals and history, and be with my friends. When I was little, I wanted to be something worthwhile: a farmer, a fireman, a cowboy, a policeman, a ghostbuster…

God preparing me…
My father was a seminarian for the archdiocese of Morelia for four years, and sometimes he would tell us what life was like in the seminary: how they read a book while they ate, how they slept in big rooms…

He had a special Bible commemorating John Paul II’s trip to Mexico in 1979, and he would proudly show us a photo in it of the Pope with some of his professors (they were bishops, but I didn’t know that; I thought they were teachers like mine): Bishop Manuel Pérez Gil, Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, and so forth. I had no idea what a seminary was or what it was for, but I was really curious, listening to what my father would tell me.

Preparation for Confirmation and my first Communion helped me grow in my friendship with Christ. I took Sunday Mass
P. Edmundo Ponce Díaz , L.C.
seriously, and I even made the resolution to go to Mass some other day of the week as well.

For a while we lived in a town called Tuxpan, also in the state of Michoacán. I liked to go to CCD in the parish of St James the Apostle in Tuxpan, because there we could play and win tickets for parties, and there was something mysterious about the cloister of the church (no mystical mysteries, just legends dreamt up by other boys). I also enjoyed rainy days, because we would go out to play in the street, running through the puddles, building dams, splashing each other with our bikes…

I remember very well the day when a nearby river flooded and some poor families lost their houses. As soon as my father heard about it, he went out at night to help them. When the earthquake shook Mexico City in 1985, I was surprised to see a restaurant, where my father had eaten just two weeks before, completely destroyed. These events helped me reflect, and in the words of a seven or eight-year-old boy, I would talk with God and tell Him that I wanted to be his friend forever, asking Him to help me.

The call
One of those days, while I was building a dam in a puddle (I was about seven years old), without knowing how or why, I thought about the parish priest distributing Communion, and I said to myself, “I want to be a priest.” That thought lasted a moment, like any other, but the resolution stayed.

Four years later, my family returned to Hidalgo City, and there I entered the boy scouts. I enjoyed going to the group every Saturday to play, to learn things, and to be with my friends. I really admired the leader of the group, Enrique Marín, a mailman who led us and taught us a lot. The best for me was to be a wolf scout, and I was able to sacrifice going to parties and other things in order to go to the Saturday meetings and camping trips.

A definitive “yes”
As time rolled on, the idea of becoming a priest shifted to the back burner, but in 1989, when I was in sixth grade, I remembered the resolution I had made when I was seven. I renewed my decision to go to a seminary, sincerely wanting to discover what God’s will was for me. I liked to talk with my grandmother about the saints, prayers, and Holy Mass. Also, I had good friends who invited me to start reading the Catechism, I had religion classes at school, and I would visit the church whenever I had a chance. All this helped me think about what God wanted me.

In October of 1989, two Legionaries visited my school. They surprised me, since I was not used to seeing priests wearing the clerical collar. I was also surprised that they were young Spaniards. They gave each of us a small card with three questions about the priesthood. One of them was, “Would you like to see a seminary?” Without a second thought, I marked “yes.” Shortly thereafter, two more Legionaries came to visit my house, spoke with my parents, and invited me to a weekend at the apostolic school in Mexico City. I had never heard of the Legion of Christ, but I noticed many small details, like the Christmas card they sent me. They also told me that as a seminarian, I could go to study in Spain.

I decided that I had to go to that seminary and see what God wanted of me. Due to bad luck, I actually didn’t go to the seminary that weekend, but when my friends came back, I went to talk with the Legionaries who had taken them there. While we were waiting, a lady told me, almost prophetically, “Perhaps you will be the only one to stay and become a priest.”

From that moment on, my only desire was to enter the Legionary seminary and answer God’s call.

The time I spent preparing to go to the seminary passed by very slowly, but also very quickly. The days were full of activity: class, sports, scouts, field trips, helping my parents in a store…
I did not know whether or not God wanted me to be a priest. Moreover, like every boy, I wanted to get married and raise a family, but I knew that the most important thing was to find God’s will for me.

The Legionaries came back to my school and then to my house. While they were there, they gave us the list of everything I would need, and they told me the day I had to be there: July 4, 1990. From that point on, I did not think about anything else; all my thoughts and plans were more or less “I’m going to the seminary with the Legionaries.” When the day finally arrived, I was very nervous, because I was afraid of arriving late, like that last weekend.

My parents always supported me and did their best to get me everything I needed. It was not easy for them to be separated from their oldest son, and they must have had to grow in their faith in order to accept something that perhaps they did not understand or share. I am very grateful to my father; although he did not quite accept it at first, he always respected my decision, and never tried to convince me otherwise. I am grateful to my mother and brothers for their support and constant prayers.

When I arrived at the apostolic school, I instantly felt at home. I was not there to see, but to stay. With God’s grace, my vocation matured and my decision to follow his call strengthened during my years there.

I am grateful to God and to my superiors for the trust they showed me, assigning me to work for several years forming boys who, like me, sought what God wanted from them. Thanks to all my superiors, companions, and students. Thanks to my whole family, those in heaven and those on earth. Thanks to all my friends, teachers, and all those who have been with me in one way or another. I would also like to mention Father Raymundo Franco, a diocesan priest, since his priestly life and fidelity amid difficulties have helped me throughout my Legionary life. God knows that the path I have followed really is as simple as it seems, for “although I walk through dark valleys, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” God has really blessed me a lot, much more than I deserve.

Father Edmundo Ponce Díaz was born in Mexico City on April 28, 1978. he grew up in Hidalgo City, Michoacán, Mexico. He is the oldest of three brothers. He entered the Legionary apostolic school in Ajusco in 1990. He was a novice and studied liberal arts in Salamanca, Spain. He was dean of studies for several years in the apostolic schools in León and Monterrey, both in Mexico. He has a master’s degree in philosophy from the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. He is currently dean of studies in the apostolic school of La Joya, in Mexico City.

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



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