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Three Brothers Ordained Priests on the Same Day
INTERNATIONAL | WHO WE ARE | TESTIMONIES
Father Alberto García Gutiérrez, LC (Mexico)

P. Alberto García Gutiérrez , L.C.
Fr. Alberto García Gutiérrez , LC

I was born on February 28, 1976 in the wonderful city of Guadalajara. Well, nobody is perfect… except for those from Jalisco… I come from a happy and enthusiastic Catholic family. There are seven children. Bibiana and Carolina are my older sisters, and Jesús, Andrés, Francisco, and Juan Pablo are my younger brothers.

The first call from God

My mom is a holy, simple, dedicated, and hard-working woman. She was always concerned about our faith. She prepared us for our First Communion. She used to organize Nativity plays among our neighbors, who appreciated her a lot. My dad is thoughtful, prudent, and firm in his advice and determinations.

At home there was an environment of great respect for priests. I also remember that ever since we were very little we acted out Mass. We put our parents’ bathrobes on, and one day my brother Jesús cut a hole in a sheet to use it as a chasuble.

The four older brothers were acolytes. I received the first call from God in one of the Masses I served. When the priest raised the consecrated host, I was amazed at such a great gift and I started thinking, “How much God loves us! The Creator of the Sun, the stars, the moon, the rivers, the sea, animals, and men! He is here in the priest’s hands, fulfilling his promise to be with us until the end of the world.” Several times I thought about being a priest.

Time went on. We were quite mischievous. In an early morning Mass, one of my brothers brought a firecracker. I liked to light the thurible with alcohol. On that day I overdid it and started a fire. My brother Andrés began to play around and blow the fire as if he were a fire extinguisher. Jesús, my other brother, jokingly took out the firecracker and lit it. When he tried to throw it away from where we were, it hit a sign and ricocheted into the sacristy where there were a lot of priests already vested for Mass. You can imagine the scare. Two or three priests almost died. Father Barajas, our pastor, told us that we had better go away.

When the procession with the image of the Virgin of Zapopan passed by our parish, we joined the pilgrimage. We went to the living Stations of the Cross and we didn’t miss the Nativity plays. All this helped us in our friendship with Christ and love for the Virgin Mary.

To what shall I dedicate my life?

My life changed in my adolescence. I had new friends, most of them a lot better than me. The time began when I would go out for parties and dances. My favorite hobby was keeping animals. I had two German shepherds, fighting roosters, an enormous chicken coop, and carrier pigeons which I spent hours playing with and teaching. The sport I liked most was cycling, and with our friends we formed a team of cyclists.

Thanks to God’s Providence and my dad’s effort, we
P. Alberto García Gutiérrez , L.C.
had a very thorough education in a school run by Franciscan nuns. There we were really close to God, in a healthy environment, and the sacraments were never lacking.

I left that school to go to high school. I was restless when I thought about the future, about what I would dedicate my life to. I had a lot of dreams of preparing myself well, becoming an accountant, and finding a nice girl to form a great family.

I was immersed in a thousand things and activities, but God sought me out. I had already achieved everything I had wanted until that moment: a well equipped race bicycle, a red Volkswagen Beetle with wide tires and a nice sound, and I was happy with my girlfriend. In the afternoon I used to study in my high school, and in the morning I would take a short course on accounting in my uncle’s technical school.

Everything seemed wonderful, but I didn’t feel fully happy. My heart was yearning for something more. When I participated in Sunday Mass with my family, I remembered the good old days when I was an acolyte and I would speak with Christ in lively conversations; my mom had helped us ever since we were little to establish that simple friendship with Jesus in which we would tell him everything and trust in him totally. At the same time, I was somewhat far away from God. I wasn’t going to confession, and I was enticed by the world’s vanities. So Christ intervened.

My immediate plans at 16 years of age were to get a drivers’ license—since weekends were fun with a car—, finish high school exams as soon as possible, and begin to work as an accountant in the gym where my cycling team was training.

In the midst of problems I got closer to God

At home, however, we found ourselves in the midst of economic problems. I also lost my dog Rocky when it disappeared from the garage one day; it had been my faithful companion, it was well trained to fetch anything, and it protected like a lion anything that would be left in its care. My dad lost his job; rather, he was being cheated and decided to quit. The gym had to move to a different location, and I couldn’t keep on working there. At school there were strikes, so the teachers didn’t give us classes. In one of the riots, one of my best friends from class was shot and killed by a pistol in the midst of that commotion. Soon after, I sold my car to help pay for school and some costs at home. My brothers Jesús and Andrés had gone for a year to an apostolic school of the Legion of Christ, in León, Guanajuato. For my parents it was a great gift, even though it was costly for them, both economically and humanly. For me it was especially difficult because we had always been together in everything, but that was God’s plan for the “sons of thunder.”

Every time there was a disgrace or problem, I got closer to God. I remember, for example, when Mauricio died. He had been one of the best friends in the neighborhood. I got on my bike and went to the cemetery to blame God for letting these things happen that made us suffer so much. Later, thinking about what happened—I had been present there—I was more at peace because a priest managed to give my friend absolution before he died.

Something changed for ever

On my part, my conscience reminded me that it had been several years since I had gone to the Sacrament of Confession. On January 30, 1992, I was on my way home thinking about the meaning and the fleetingness of life, about what happiness was, and about what God wanted from me. I remember that I stopped at a church and I made a visit to Christ in the Eucharist, who was exposed, and I told him, “What do you want from me, Lord?” I asked for light and strength, and I added, “Show me the way. I want to be happy. Tell me where to go. I promise to confess my sins and be your friend for ever, but you, help me.” I invoked the Holy Spirit, and I left happy, trusting in him.

What a great surprise awaited me at home! A guest had been invited over for dinner. It was Father Enrique Flores, a Legionary of Christ. I told him everything, and he suggested that I finish high school in the apostolic school of Ajusco. I began to cry, remembering the promise I had just made to Christ. I told him I would go, and I immediately asked him, “Father, can you hear my confession?”

“Sure! How could I refuse?” I made a good confession. When the priest said, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” something changed for ever. It’s not like I heard strange voices. Neither was there a marvelous vision. But, besides feeling a great peace, I left that confession with an overflowing zeal in my heart and a very clear idea that resounded in my mind as if someone were telling me, “I want you to be a priest.” It was so clear. It is still so clear, almost 17 years later.

Why did I decide to become a priest? I have tried to respond in the most direct way, referring to the key moment. Would I be so crazy as to follow some sort of religious feeling, as to change my whole life as a result of this?

If this had been an isolated occurrence, a simple passing emotion, surely I would not have followed this path. In fact, in the following weeks I thought more than once that it was madness to set out after something that seemed like an emotion. It didn’t seem reasonable to me. But it gave me the chance to think a great deal and to discover that it was neither an isolated occurrence nor an emotion. How is it possible that a person who a year before prayed seldom, didn’t go to confession, and didn’t even worry about that sort of things, could come to this moment?

So I sold all the fighting roosters, the carrier pigeons, and my bicycle. I got together the clothes I needed, and I set off on the path, following Christ in a great adventure that would never end.

Why a priest?

Well, I am afraid that what I have described may not explain completely why I am becoming a priest. I wish I could explain it better. It is easy to understand how you fall in love, but you will agree that it is harder to explain why.

It is impossible to explain in a few lines what being a priest means to me. But one thing is certain: a priest belongs to God and to others. He no longer belongs to himself. He has renounced forming his own family and his personal plans in order to dedicate himself only to God and others. It’s not like I don’t have a family. This is a priest’s family: God and others.

This path has been full of signs of the Lord’s presence. Here is one example: ever since we were in the apostolic school, Jesús, Andrés, and I were asking God for the grace to be ordained together. The Lord, who knows what he does and what he wants, heard our prayer. On August 17, 2008, Cardinal Juan Sandoval, in the Cathedral of Guadalajara, ordained the three of us together: Jesús, a diocesan priest; Andrés and I, priests of the Legionaries of Christ.

If you are a person of faith, I ask you to say a prayer for me, so that God will help me to be a holy, authentic priest. If you are a person of little faith, I ask you to say two prayers. If you are not a believer, rejoice with me, and I will take care of the prayer. But rejoice!

Father Alberto García Gutiérrez was born in Guadalajara (Mexico) on February 28, 1976. He studied in the Tlaquepaque Institute, run by Franciscan nuns. He did a technical course of accountancy in the Invaqui Institute of Technical Sciences. In 1992 he entered the apostolic school of the Legion of Christ in Ajusco (Mexico). He did his novitiate in Novara (Italy). He studied humanities in Salamanca (Spain). He collaborated in youth ministry and vocation promotion in Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Morelia, Toluca, Cancún, Oaxaca, and Veracruz. He was a member of the formators team in the apostolic school of the Legion of Christ in Ajusco (Mexico) and in Medellín (Colombia). He has a licentiate in philosophy and a bachelor’s degree in theology from the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College. Together with his two brothers (Andrés and Jesús) he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Guadalajara by Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez on August 17, 2008. He is currently the vice rector of the apostolic school of the congregation in São Paulo (Brazil).

 

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


PUBLICATION DATE: 2008-12-20


 
 


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