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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Son of “Mrs. Faith”
Father Íñigo Ahedo Rodríguez, LC (Mexico)

P. Íñigo Ahédo Rodríguez , L.C.
Fr. Íñigo Ahédo Rodríguez , LC

I don’t know why, but I always wanted to be a priest. The path I followed to find my vocation was about as simple as one could imagine. One could say that God planted a little seed in me and the seed grew little by little until it became a small plant. With God’s grace, it will keep growing so that it produces the fruit God expects from me.

My family consists of four children, my father, and my mother. I remember when we were kids we used to enjoy ourselves with the simplest toys and games, like playing with logs outside when the road flooded. But the best part was when our mother taught us about the faith, which she in turn had learned from my grandmother. What a blessing to have been born into a Catholic family: speaking about God and speaking to God was the most normal thing.

I have one older brother who is married and has a beautiful family. After him my twin brother (my double) and I were born. I can say that all my life I’ve had “a double”; he is married and lives a happy life with his family. We are two years older than our little brother.   

Ever since I was little, I often helped my father out on the ranch. There, far from the city (Celaya) and among the animals we had a great time. I’m certain that the simple life we lived out on the countryside also helped me to hear and receive the call of God that came to me when I still was young.

I never grow tired of thanking God for the example my parents gave me every day. My mother dedicated herself to the family, to the education of her children, and she taught us how to live the faith and to give Christ to others. While we attended school in the mornings she helped out with the School of the Faith, a Regnum Christi apostolate which endeavors to prepare and equip catechists who will begin giving either part of their time or all of their time to the parish. After she did this she returned home to prepare lunch for us and in the afternoon she brought us to the School of the Faith. So it was that acquaintances began to call her “Mrs. Faith.”

From my father, I learned how to work. Working on a ranch isn’t easy, given that the animals don’t take vaccinations. You have to be there all the time. For this reason, when we weren’t at school or at the School of the Faith, we were on the ranch with my dad. We received more than a few corrections and reprimands from my father, but I can say with sincerity that I’m enormously grateful. With respect to my vocation, despite the costs that have been paid along the way, he has always supported me, and this has always given me a lot of security and the
P. Íñigo Ahédo Rodríguez , L.C.
confidence to keep on going.

The call came without my noticing it

One day, when we were in sixth grade attending Catholic school, they told us that a priest was coming to visit and he would give a brief talk and then invite us to Mexico City. It was Father Leopoldo Cuchillo, a Legionary of Christ. When he entered my classroom I was impressed by his presence. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t know why, but I always had the desire to become a priest. Thanks to the fervor of my mother and the fact that there were very close to my house—downtown Celaya—about ten churches, I had the opportunity to know many diocesan priests as well as some priests from various congregations. But I never felt so identified with a priest as on that occasion when he entered the classroom. After the talk, which I don’t really remember, he left time for questions. A few days later, the priest returned to invite some of us to spend the weekend at the apostolic school in Mexico City.

My mother was part of the Regnum Christi Movement, and like I said above, she helped with the School of the Faith for nearly ten years. This brought more than a few Legionary priests to pass by my house. When I was about to finish sixth grade, during the month of May, I received an invitation to go to the apostolic school in Mexico City for the summer. They invited both me and my twin brother. Thus we went to spend our summer without any plans to stay longer.

At the apostolic school I never felt out of place as if I was just one more visitor. Right from the beginning I felt at home. I didn’t ask myself if this was what God wanted of me, if this was finally what I was looking for in my life, or anything like that. Almost without noticing at the time, I was discovering what God wanted for me. 

The first steps

Come the end of summer they asked me what I most wanted to be, and without turning it over too much in my mind I responded that I wanted to be a priest and that I wanted to stay to become a Legionary priest. The years I lived in the apostolic school where some of the best of my life on this wonderful path, so full of surprises. I was as happy at apostolic school as I was at home, such that when I went home I had a lot of fun, and when I returned to the school I felt as if I was still at home.

After my years at the apostolic school I decided to join the novitiate, and I did my novitiate in the United States. At first I was a little scared because I only knew a little English, but at the same time I was excited because I would be entering into contact with another culture and I’d be able to learn English well. My novitiate years were marvelous because the only thing I was looking for was to know Christ better. That was when I decided that I wouldn’t leave the vocation unless I discovered it wasn’t my path.

There were two years of novitiate and at the end, religious profession. I stayed there to study the humanities and classical sciences. Everything seemed to say that by the end of the year I’d be going to Rome to begin philosophy studies, but a few days before the trip I received notice that a group of brothers would be doing a second year of humanities and that I was one of them. At first it hurt, since I wanted to go to Rome, but God had his plan; it was my turn to trust in him.

While I was finishing the second year they announced that they were going to found a center in New York, and that a few of us would stay to help in the foundation. I’m very grateful to Father Guillermo Meade who was my Rector both in Cheshire as well as in New York, and he helped me a lot in these important years of my formation.

Those years of foundation were extraordinary, first and foremost on account of the family spirit we lived and all the work we had to do in order to keep such a big place functioning with so few people. I was also given the chance to teach the catechism to children from different schools in the area. It was a very enriching experience and it helped me to open up to various family situations which I would encounter later on in my work with the youth.

Apostolic work

Wrapping up two years of philosophy, with a lot of hard work to pass exams, I came to the moment of my apostolic practices, or internship period. I went to be the instructor of formation at the elementary school of CEYCA, just south of Mexico City. The most gratifying experience of working with young people is to see how the grace of God transforms their lives when they open up to it, and how one can help them in the difficult moments, like when they are looking for a friend they can trust with their hardships to get up and move forward. It was an experience that motivated me to keep going on this road and to face the years ahead.

Everything I learnt during my formation was put into practice in this period of working directly with people. I liked to accompany the young people on their spiritual retreats because I saw how many of them grew closer to God and decided to work for the good of others. I witnessed more than a few conversion experiences in the youth. Going out of themselves, they found in God meaning for their life, and with great generosity, they got involved in projects to help others, especially those in most need.

The final sprint

After all this I traveled to Rome to continue my studies of philosophy and theology. The three years of theology were like the final sprint of a race, only a little bit different. The closer you get to the end the further you wish you were, because humanly speaking one sees himself very far from what God wants of a priest. I don’t know if everyone has had the same experience, but in my case, the closer the moment came the stronger I felt the temptation to leave it all for those “better than me.”

At the beginning I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why I had to doubt everything just before becoming what I had always wanted to be for so long. Suddenly it all seemed to me pointless and without meaning: the days and weeks and months passed by. I don’t have words to thank Father Gabriel Gonzalez, one of my superiors during this period. In the end—I don’t know exactly how long this period lasted—I saw that God had some special graces reserved for the occasion. It’s clear that God is the greatest master: the gold needs to be tested in the crucible, to make a statue of marble he has to strike hard so that he clears away what is unwanted. The difficult moments of life are like a gymnasium where one does all sorts of physical exercises until one realizes the demands and self-discipline of exercise; the greater the effort the better, because on leaving, one feels renewed, anxious to keep running many more kilometers of life.

A new mission

When I finished my third year of theology and arrived at my diaconal ordination I was sent to help out in the prelature of Cancún-Chetumal as the secretary for Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo. The assignment was for me like a bucket of cold water. I had never done secretarial work. But if there’s anything I’m convinced of, it’s that if I do God’s will I can’t go wrong. So I didn’t doubt that this was the best thing for me at the moment. And it was. I arrived to the mission territory with a great desire to grow and become every day more of the religious God wants me to be. The example of the priests who work in the missions has led me to see that the only way to holiness and happiness is to give yourself to others.

Nineteen years have passed since the day I entered the apostolic school. You can say it so quickly; but the truth is, living those years was much quicker. It seems like just yesterday that I entered, it seems like only a while ago I was finishing sixth grade. I look back and I want to return to correct the mistakes, overcome the innumerable failings and to grow more in my meager virtues. I also look ahead, to everything that I will be able to do as a priest for the souls I know and love in Christ.

Father Íñigo Ahedo Rodríguez was born in Celaya (Mexico) on May, 4th, 1977. In 1989 he joined the minor seminary of the Legionaries of Christ in Mexico City, where he did his high school studies. He did novitiate and completed his study of the humanities and classical sciences in the United States. He was instructor of formation in the CEYCA School (Mexico City). He has a license in Philosophy and his Bachelor’s degree in Theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome. Presently he is secretary to Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo, bishop of the Prelature of Cancún-Chetumal.

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



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