In today´s world everything is interactive. This vocational testimony is
going to follow suit. To tell you the truth I
didn´t know what to title this testimony. For the past
twelve years I have been preparing for this moment but
now I am going to leave that to you.
|Father Ramon Loyola, LC|
the first titles I thought of was, "From your mother´s
womb I chose you." My family went to the beach
one summer and I went along in my mother´s womb.
From Logroño (Spain) to Alicante we had to pass by
Zaragoza, where the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar is
located. There my mother went to our Lady, recollected herself
in prayer, placed her hands on her enlarged belly and
offered me to her so that God could do whatever
he wanted with me.
Later I thought of this as
a possible title: "Vocation by Inheritance." My father is the
perfect example of what it means to have an iron
will and that has become one of my life´s norms.
My mother is a saint, a woman of great piety,
a strong will in the face of difficulty and an
extraordinary educator. She formed everything and anything that is noble
and elevated within me.
"Thanks to a Marist" is yet
another option which brings back many fond memories. I was
studying in Madrid, at nine years of age in a
school run by the Marists. One of them was a
missionary from Zaire who gave a talk one day about
what it was like to be a missionary in Africa.
I was so impressed that I wanted to be a
missionary that very instant.
"He´s a saint!" as the list goes
on. My brothers joined a youth club that was run
by the Legionaries of Christ. One day
they came home with the solemn proclamation that they had
met a saint of the Catholic Church: Father Alfredo Torres,
LC. He had founded various of these youth clubs throughout
Spain, he was from Mexico ... A few months later
I was finally allowed to go to the club. When
I saw Father Alfredo for the first time, I ran
up to him and told him that I knew who
he was, the saint, and that I needed to talk
with him. His words have been forever engraved in my
memory. He spoke to me of his ideals, of his
desire to conquer the world for Christ. The more I
listened, the more enthusiastic I became. I wanted to be
just like Father Alfredo. What most impressed me about Father
Alfredo was his passion for the mission, his will of
steel but most of all his wonderful tenderness for the
Blessed Virgin. When I got back home my life´s path
seemed clearer and I was happy.
One summer I went
to visit Avila with some of my friends from the
club. We went to Mass with the Carmelite sisters and
afterwards we went to the parlor to chat with them
for a while. When we were getting ready to leave
I snuck back to the cloister bars and told one
of the nuns, "please pray for me because I might
become a priest", which wouldn´t be a bad title in
itself. The Carmelites, like all of the contemplatives, have a
front row seat when it comes to God.
was sixteen years old I was still interested in the
priesthood but the thought of it brought more fear than
joy. The testimony of some other young men who had
gone to visit the Legion´s Novitiate in Salamanca was like
a constant "banging on the door" of my conscience. Then
my older brother decided to give two years of his
life to the apostolate as a "Co-worker in Regnum Christi", which really made me think.
months after I had begun dating a young lady I
went on a retreat with Father Florencio Sanchez, LC. While
I was there, right on the feast day of Our
Lady of Pilar, another hint hit me loud and clear.
Father was reading this passage from the Gospel, "As the
Father has sent me so I send you ..." I
sensed a strong and unexpected light that seemed to tell
me, "I want you to be my priest." That gave
me a serious headache. I decided not to say no
to Jesus but at the same time I wasn´t just
going to leave it at that. I asked him, "Lord,
what are you trying to do? Do you want to
force me to be unhappy or something? Go find someone
who doesn´t do any apostolate because I´m already pretty busy
being a good example in that regard."
When I got back
from the retreat I chatted with my girlfriend about the
whole scenario and she said, "Ramon, the important thing is
for you to do what God wants." Her testimony of
generosity truly helped me to put God in first place
in my life. Yet it was still very hard for
me to be generous. My brother Alfonso was going to
the Candidacy that summer and that was stirring my conscience
as well, I think more out of curiosity than anything
else, but it helped me to want to find out
what my vocation was. Plus, my spiritual director told me,
"if you go to the Candidacy and things still aren´t
clear then you can just forget about it and go
I went to the Candidacy in 1990. I was afraid
and I didn´t behave too well. My spiritual director decided
to pay me a visit. As I was waiting for
him to arrive I prepared a long list of reasons
why I didn´t have a vocation and once he sat
down I poured them on him. He responded very calmly,
"That´s fine, Ramon, if you see before God that this
is not your vocation than you can go home in
peace or if you would like to stay here for
a few more days that is fine too." His answer
made me feel worse than before. I could hear my
conscience telling me, "you may have convinced Father but you
haven´t convinced me."
I decided to stay on for a few
more days and one of those days was a retreat.
"We need advice from someone else to be more objective
in our decisions," was one of the main things that
made an impact on me. I asked Father Ignacio Oriol,
LC, for spiritual direction and that spiritual direction changed my
life. I began, "Father Ignacio, help me to get rid
of the sophisms about my vocation." He was so patient.
After more than an hour of chatting and listening I
stood up and said, "Father, I think I am beginning
to understand that this vocation thing is a matter of
faith." "Precisely, that is what we have been trying to
tell you for the last month," he answered me with
a big smile. That was the exact moment of my
decision. I went to the front row of the chapel
and knelt down crying before our Lord. I was crying
because I knew that this decision was definitive; I was
giving him my life. Through the rest of the Candidacy
I was happiest man alive.
In these twelve years God
has taught me so many lessons, always leading me closer
and closer to his heart and to souls. I can
say with all sincerity that there is no vocation more
beautiful, more passionate, more fruitful and more joyful than following
Christ as a Legionary priest. Christ has done great things
in me. I, like Mary, would like to say for
my whole life, "FIAT" (be it done, from the phrase
be it done unto me according to your word). Fiat
is the essence of my vocation story.
God may have used
other phrases or titles to lovingly draw you closer to
him. Write them all down and then make your decision
by clicking on the one that fits the best. This
will bring you true happiness. "FIAT."
Father Ramon Loyola Paternina, LC,
was born in Logroño, Spain, in 1969. He has worked
as a youth director vocation promoter in Spain, Italy and
currently in Mexico.
(July 4, 2003)