I come from a modest city of 350,000 people, Ponta
Grossa, in the state of Paraná, in the south of
Brazil. My family is on the smaller side as I
have an older sister and a younger one. My dad
has always worked as a chauffeur and my mom as
|Father Marcelo Cecato, LC|
God had his eye on me ever since
I was toddler. As long as I can remember I
was moved by the testimony of some local priests at
my parish who were both holy and enthusiastic. Thanks to
their example I felt drawn to God´s call to the
Like many adolescents the desire to be a priest began
to fade as I got older, but God always made
himself present during Mass and as the companion of my
heart. On many occasions I felt him very close to
me and this inspired me to want to help those
around me in need. I could see so many people
waiting in line all day just to get a doctor´s
appointment for themselves or their children. My heart would break
seeing them suffer like that and it made me want
to become a doctor so I could help them, every
one of them, one by one. This thought would cross
my mind quite often.
Despite all this I still couldn´t
make up my mind and I never associated these inspirations
with the priesthood. Yet the longing was continuous. Seeing me
go through this doubt my dad decided to call our
pastor when I finished ninth grade. The priest in question
was a very holy man, advanced in years, who understood
my situation perfectly, who advised me to finish high school
before going off to the seminary. I was thrilled! Another
three years to have fun.
The next year, when I
was fifteen years old, I began working for an advertising
agency. I found the work fascinating. I was rubbing elbows
with people in mass media. My longing soon became another
line of work: a radio host. I remember when I
would play with my little sister. She would "call the
radio station making a request and I would play her
song." We would record all this and have our mom
In 1986, my first year at this job, I
came into contact with the Legion of Christ when a
Legionary came to my school to give a talk. Father
Fintan Kelly, LC, had a fundamental role in my life
because at that stage I was going through some family
problems and in him I found a friend who would
always listen. He was a true friend and he was
God´s instrument for me.
Soon after I participated in the
first vocational get together in Brazil at the house of
the Legionaries of Christ in Ponta Grossa. I was truly
impressed by this first encounter with the Legionary community, especially
the kindness that they showered us with. It really seemed
like we were important people. After the concluding dinner I
accompanied a few of the Fathers as they dropped off
some of the other guys who had come and on
the way back I asked a lot of questions trying
to get rid of my doubts.
I was still too
young to enter the Legion because a Legionary minor seminary
did not exist in Brazil yet, so I lost contact
with the Legionaries. Yet the experience still had a profound
effect on me. I remember one of the Fathers giving
me a card with a picture of Christ on it.
I did not realize at the time how important that
image of Jesus was to a Legionary but I always
kept it with me in my wallet until I was
eighteen when I entered the Legion. I felt a great
peace each time I looked at it and I took
care of it like it was a relic.
In 1988 I
came into contact with the Legionaries of Christ again. Listening
to the news on the radio while I was having
breakfast one morning, I heard about Father Fintan´s car accident
as he was coming back from Curitiba the night before.
I wanted to go and visit him so I asked
to get out a little early from work and headed
over to the hospital. When I arrived there were a
number of Legionaries there. They treated me with utmost kindness
and let me know that Father Fintan could not receive
any visitors and that he was being moved to another
hospital in Sao Paulo.
Months went by without ever hearing
about him but one fine day we came upon each
other walking down the street. It was like a miracle!
There was Father! It was definitely a great grace and
we renewed our friendship.
After staying close to the sacraments
and keeping myself in God´s grace, my eyes and ears
were opened once again and I could hear God´s call.
This doesn´t mean that the temptations to draw me away
from the vocation went on vacation: I was about to
receive a new car and I had an offer from
one of the most important radio stations in Brazil.
the same time I also wanted to have an experience
in the military. I signed up to take part in
a national competition but later found out that the finals
would be during the candidacy program. During this time I
became friends with a Legionary seminarian while visiting the Novitiate
in Curitiba. He told me that a year before he
was competing for a spot as an officer in the
Brazilian Marines in Rio de Janeiro, and at a certain
point he left everything to follow Christ. There is an
average of 350 young men competing for one spot ...
and he left everything. And myself? I was thinking of
forgetting about Christ for some dinky little local unit. That
was too much. At that moment God´s call really woke
me up. What mission is more noble than saving souls?
Today I get excited about thinking of my hopeful arrival
into heaven seeing all of the souls that God helped
through me, coming up to me and greeting me saying:
"Thank you for your fidelity, thank you for persevering in
the fight and not losing faith, for believing that Christ
In the end I went to the candidacy program
that summer. There Christ conquered my heart to be his
soldier ... and his talk show host.
Ever since then I
have been a very happy and fulfilled man. I do
not feel the need for anything more and I am
certain of spending the best years of my life on
the One who is absolutely worth it. He will never
betray me because his love is eternal. I ask him
only to help me to be always faithful, a good
shepherd, a man of love. I want my love to
be brand new each day, never aging or becoming routine.
Father Marcelo was born in Ponta Grossa (Brazil) on September
20, 1970. He entered the Legion of Christ on January
3, 1989 upon finishing high school. He did two years
of Novitiate studies in Curitiba (Brazil) and a year of
Classical Humanities Studies in Salamanca (Spain). Following those years of
study he dedicated three years to helping form other seminarians
in Brazil and Mexico. In 1995 he traveled to Rome
to study for his degrees in Philosophy and Theology. He
is currently working in Brazil as a vocation promoter.