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Turn to Jesus (Article)

God Reached out to Me
Vocational Testimony of Fr. Enrique Rodríguez, LC

Testimonio vocacional del P. Enrique Rodríguez L.C.
Fr. Enrique Rodríguez L.C.
I’ve always said that it was all my brother’s fault, just like it always was at home. It happened like this…

I was born in Paris, France, but I am the son of Spanish parents and I lived most of my childhood and youth in the city of Talavera de la Reina, Spain. I never thought of being a priest until God took the initiative in 1988 when I was in 8th grade. That was when God took it upon himself to show me that there were many other paths in life besides the ones I had thought of. Like any other boy, I had thought of becoming a policeman, a soccer player… and I had also gotten it into my head that I wanted to be a doctor. I think that this was also part of God’s plan, because what was at the root of this thought was my desire to be able to help others.

My life had unfolded until then in a very normal way, like the life of any other boy. I studied like any other boy, with my ups and downs. Although I was not very brilliant, I can’t say that school went badly for me, because I was pretty responsible about keeping up with the homework assignments. There was only one year when I had to battle a little more with mathematics, but at the end I won.

I have always loved sports ever since I was little, and at school I played on the basketball team and on the soccer team. In the afternoons when I finished school, I went to karate classes. My weekends were also full of other sports.

With this in view, one could ask what happened to make a 13-year old boy start thinking about becoming a priest without a
Testimonio vocacional del P. Enrique Rodríguez L.C.
special call, an apparition by an angel, or any other extraordinary event.

All My Brother’s Fault
As I said before, it was all my brother’s fault. One day in 1987, he came home saying that he wanted to visit the seminary and that they had invited him to participate in a weekend get-together to see what it was like there. I didn’t think much of it then. I know that he went twice during that year and came back very happy, but I have no other memory of those days. At the end of the year, he decided to go to the summer candidacy program, which lasted for one month. I was surprised that at the end, he decided to stay at the apostolic school to see if God was calling him to be a priest. Some years later, he saw that it wasn’t his path. Now he is married and works in the administration of a construction company.

And so it was that my vocation story started with my brother. I went to the apostolic school for the first time in August to visit it, and there God opened my eyes. I had never imagined anything like that. Among all the activities they did during the day – Olympics, soccer tournaments, swimming, basketball, ping-pong, table soccer – there was something more that you could sense in the air. What most caught my attention was the atmosphere. That wasn’t normal; it seemed totally unlike anything I had lived in school, where the law of the strongest prevailed. Certainly, the first thing that came to my mind was not that I wanted to be a priest – I had never thought of it before – but I did know that it was a seminary and that young men who wanted to be priests were formed there. I decided that I was ready to give God the chance to tell me if that was what he wanted for me.

The next year was full of activity for me. I was studying 8th grade subjects, but I had my heart set on the seminary. As a result, I participated in 7 weekend conventions during the year and accompanied Father Manuel Jesús Fernández in some other moments during the year. Every time, I came home more convinced that that was my place. In some way, God was making me see that he wanted me to be a priest, because more and more, I felt that I wanted to be like Father Manuel Jesús, always joyful, active, open to give himself to others in all the get-togethers. Someone who took care of our relationship with God and who made sure to bring us closer to the sacraments... I think this was my first direct and personal experience of what it meant to be a priest, and that’s why it caught my attention so much.

Called Like Samuel
At home, we had always lived our faith with a lot of simplicity, and in a very deep way. On Sundays, we went to Mass as a family; we prayed the rosary as a family, although not in a habitual way. We participated in the dawn rosary on Saturdays in the month of May, made frequent visits to the Basilica of Our Lady of Prado, who is the patroness of the city… but even though I had this closeness with the priests, it had never crossed my mind that I could be a priest, and till then the only thing that I had seen a priest do was celebrate Sunday Mass.

My family always made sure we had a good Catholic education, so I went to kindergarten in a school run by the Benedictine Mothers of Talavera. I still have a strong friendship with them, since some of the mothers I knew as a child are still there. It’s funny, but I still remember the flowers we offered to the Blessed Virgin’s statue during the month of May. It was also in their chapel that I received my first communion some years later. I think God made himself present there, since we read the passage of Samuel’s call in a dialogue format, and I had to read the part of Samuel. Perhaps God wanted to say something then, but it was only afterwards that I realized it. I think my mother realized, because she still has the paper that they gave me that day. Afterwards, I continued my studies in the La Salle school, and although I personally never felt attracted by that lifestyle, I was very close to the brothers, and I think that helped me for the decision I made later.

As for my parents, I have to say that they always supported my decision and put my vocation in God’s hands through prayer. The two of them had both had the same restlessness in their youth, and they wanted me to be able to give God that opportunity.

The Grain of Wheat Must Fall
My years spent in the Legion, which up to the present have been 19, have been years of a lot of growth in my knowledge of the vocation and mission he has entrusted to me. The first years were mainly a time of receiving and soaking in God’s plan, but as I grew more aware of what God wanted from me, I tried to give myself fully in the various places where I have worked. I have been able to help others just as I wanted to when I dreamed of being a doctor, and surely in a much deeper way, since I have been able to help the soul, not just the body. As the years have gone by, I have seen the need for God in the hearts of adolescents and young people. How much families need someone to talk to them about God and help them to come closer to him! All these experiences have strengthened my decision to give my life to God so that many other people can come closer to him.

Now that I have reached the priesthood and am contemplating the years gone by and all the people God has put on my path, I realize that it’s well worth it that the grain of wheat has to fall into the ground and die to be able to bear fruit. I thank God for this vocation he has given me, and I ask him to grant me his grace always so that I can respond to all the love he has shown me throughout these years.

Father Enrique Rodríguez Velasco was born in Paris on November 17, 1974. On September 15, 1988, he entered the apostolic school of Moncada in Valencia, Spain. He did his novitiate and humanistic studies in Salamanca, Spain, from 1990 to 1994. Afterwards, he studied his bachelor’s in philosophy in Rome. He has worked as an instructor of formation in the high school of the Cumbres Institute in Mexico City and in the apostolic school of Chile. In October of 2000, he returned to Rome to do his licentiate in philosophy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum. In June of 2002, he helped in youth work and in vocational work in the Mexican cities of Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosí. He is currently studying for his licentiate in moral theology in Rome.



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