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Turn to Jesus (Article)

You Are My Promise
Fr. Vito Crincoli, LC (United States)

Fr. Vito Crincoli, LC (United States)
Fr. Vito Crincoli, LC (United States)

I entered Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, in 1993 when I was 12 years old, and to this day I have thanked God for the incredible blessing of giving my life to him at so young an age. That I already knew what I wanted to do with my life was a grace of God, and only He knows why He chose me in the prime of my life. Many people have asked me if I was sure of my decision, if it would not have been better to experience the world a little more. I can only say that God called me at that moment. No matter what I had done, he would have touched my shoulder gently, reminding me that there is something out there that is waiting for me, a world that has so many questions and needs someone to respond to their needs.

The rector of the Apostolic School, a newly ordained priest named Father David Steffy, LC, told us the story of another priest from his class who had recently given the sacraments to a dying man in a coma. When the priest entered his room, the man awoke from his coma. “You are my promise,” he said. “I never thought my promise would be so young.” I was in the chapel when I heard this story, and from then on it was my motivation for my staying in the apostolic school.

God Sows the Seeds

I do not come from a practicing Catholic family, but my family did teach me some important lessons: the need to be generous, the realization that life is not always easy, and the importance of dreaming about what we want to achieve and believing that with hard work it can be done. These lessons came from personal experience, since my family faced many challenges, both economic and inter-personal. In spite of it all, God’s hand was always present. One of God’s “signs” during these difficult times was Father Joseph Fonti, the pastor of Saint Thomas Aquinas, my home parish. I cherish and admire him a lot, and he continues to inspire me to this day. He was a priest who truly “glowed”. My parish priest told me once that we always had to have our eyes focused on the altar, despite the difficulties we face. These difficulties only prepare us to walk with those who face the same trials. His example inspired me to be a priest.

Father Fonti was the one who introduced me to the Legionaries of Christ. I made my first retreat in New Hampshire in November of 1992. There were 10 of us on this retreat, and I was astonished that there were so many young boys thinking of becoming priests.
Fr. Vito receives the Book of the Gospels from Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, during his ordination to the diaconate on June 30, 2009.
Fr. Vito receives the Book of the Gospels from Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, during his ordination to the diaconate on June 30, 2009.
I enjoyed the atmosphere and most of all the seminarians’ charity. There was always someone making sure that I was taken care of.

I was not, you might say, the “seminarian type,” and had had my share of behavior problems at school. I had to be constantly reminded to pay more attention to my studies. Somehow, I knew that I had to make a greater effort if I was serious about joining the Apostolic School.

He Helped Me to See

In the summer of 1993, I signed up to try the summer discernment program. I remember being very excited at the beginning, but my excitement evaporated when I arrived. I did not realize what I was sacrificing until I reached New Hampshire. The priests and seminarians were always there to help and encourage me, but I was always tired, and I often wanted to be alone, to take time to think about possibly going home. After two months, I eventually came to see that God was asking me to stay. I have never regretted my decision. In fact, my years at the Apostolic School were the happiest ones in my life. If I had not joined at that moment, I might never have pursued a priestly vocation. God must have a “good eye:” He knows whom to choose and when to choose him, and through His Church, He helps you to grow in maturity, to see how His plan for your life unfolds.

He Strengthened Me

I entered novitiate and studied humanities in Cheshire, Connecticut, and then received the good news that I would study philosophy in Rome: during the Jubilee year, no less. I was surprised to be sent two years later as a founding member of our community in Xalapa, Mexico. It was not easy to adapt to the new culture and language. What I really needed to change, however, was my attitude. My apostolate was not working out very well, and I even began to doubt whether God was calling me to the priesthood.

One day, I was praying in the chapel, speaking with our Lord about the passage in which Peter walks on water (Matthew 14:28-33). It came to me that Peter sank because he was concentrating on his own defects and took his eyes off Jesus. I was doing the same thing: I was putting my trust in my own ideas and abilities. By taking my eyes off the altar—recalling the words of my parish priest—I nearly lost everything. As it turned out, my years in Mexico were opportunities for spiritual growth, which helped me to see the beauty of what I had and to grow closer to God.

I especially cherish the support of the families I encountered there. It was beautiful to see how they wanted their children to have the presence of a priest or religious in their lives. They would often invite me to participate in their family events. Occasions like these helped me to see the value of having a witness to Christ in their lives.

I Am God’s Promise

I returned to Rome in 2006 to start theology, and I was ordained deacon in June of this year. I now do youth work in the town of Cotija de la Paz, Michoacán, in west-central Mexico. Here, I have come into contact with a lot of young people who desire to know the truth of their faith. Giving classes to the boys has proved a marvelous way to bring the Gospel to them. I can look my students in the eye; they can come to me for advice. In these moments I remember the words of the dying man that Father Steffy spoke of so many years ago: “You are my promise.” A priest is the voice of God for those who suffer, for those who seek mercy and answers. He is God’s promise in the lives of so


Fr. Vito Crincoli was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 17, 1979. He entered Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, in 1993, and he did his novitiate and studied humanities in Cheshire, Connecticut. He was involved in youth ministry in the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, for four years. He obtained his licentiate in philosophy and his bachelors in theology at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. He currently serves as a youth minister in Cotija de la Paz, Michoacán, Mexico.

The vocation stories of the Legionaries of Christ who were ordained on December 12, 2009 have been published in the book "I Call You Friends". During this Year for Priests, let us pray for all priests, so that their self-giving to God and to people will bear abundant fruits of grace and blessings.


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