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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Best Is Yet to Come
Father Jesús Oswaldo Verdín Pérez, LC (Mexico)

P. Jesús Oswaldo Verdín Pérez , L.C.
Fr. Jesús Oswaldo Verdín Pérez , LC

Just as in all vocational stories— and mine will not be any different— the author of the vocation is God, Our Lord. Nevertheless, in each story, God shows himself through different instruments to give us his invitation to follow him.

My Family
I was born into a Catholic family with eleven children; I am the ninth. My parents were always models of a coherent Christian life. They instilled in us the living of charity since we were kids. I remember how during Christmas, my mom used to invite us to give some of our clothes or toys to the people most in need. I also remember how we used to share with the most destitute even our food as a thanksgiving to God for granting us all the necessary means to live. In some instances I was chosen to go and bring food to some elderly people in the slums of the city.

Without my realizing it, all these details were molding and preparing my soul to be more generous. Other things that my parents always ingrained in us were love for the Church and veneration for priests, going to Mass on Sundays, praying the Rosary as a family, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the living of First Fridays. We all went to Mass. My parents were always the first to go early in the morning and later, all of us brothers according to our own schedules. Even early in my youth, my friends and I made sure that the first thing we did on Sundays was to go to Mass, and then we had fun the rest of the day. Looking back, I see clearly now, how God was preparing the ground.

Another important and decisive factor in my life was the education and formation that I received, especially in my first years of schooling. As the Mexican saying goes: “What is learned well, is never forgotten.” My parents always made sure to give us the best possible and Catholic education. My brothers and I studied in one of the Catholic schools of Encarnación de Díaz, Jalisco (Mexico): Pablo Anda School, which was and is still run by holy nuns who give themselves zealously to education. There, they taught me to give continuity to the type of life I was already living at home. I made my First Communion at that school; there also, I learned to love the Eucharist and to have devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every day, after snack time, the nun who was in charge of our group, Sister Amparo Serrano, used to bring us to the chapel to pray the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament solemnly exposed. The best friends I still have are those I had during these first years of my childhood.

Early Youth
I grew up then as any other boy, but in a very healthy environment. During the first years of my youth, when I attended high school and then college, it was a time when I
P. Jesús Oswaldo Verdín Pérez , L.C.
also had more fun, more parties, and amusement with my friends, boys and girls. Even though my childhood years were being blurred, they never totally vanished. At least, I still went to Sunday Mass, this was the only thing that remained firm and what surely helped me to avoid rough moments during those years.

The saddest event of my entire life happened during this time. Unexpectedly I lost both of my parents, first my dad and then my mom, all in a ten month period. They both died of a heart attack. God knows why he does what he does. He knows his plan, but at times, it is so hard to accept it.

Nevertheless, I can proudly say that what my parents sowed and ingrained in all their children, the principles and values that they always taught us are still being kept to this day, especially through family unity and the living of our faith.

I studied in the Universidad Autónoma de México in Aguascalientes, first I took a semester on accounting, then I changed to Tourism Administration, the reason being I wanted to overcome the difficult time after the my parents death. I figured that this was the place, and besides, I liked it: I wanted to travel, I wanted to learn other languages, I wanted to know other places and cultures, it was also a very enjoyable environment and I found myself in the company of the prettiest girls. Each semester we used to take a trip to different places to practice what we had learned, but really they were vacation days. That’s why I had a good time, though I was always aware that this would end someday in the near future and then I would have to start working. Indeed, the day came, I finished the degree and I graduated. And now what?

God continued with his plan. The year before I had finished my degree I met one of my childhood friends who had decided to join the minor seminary run by the Legionaries of Christ when he was just 12 years old. He was now Brother José de la Cruz Chávez, LC. I had not known anything about him for many years and after all this time I met him again. He made a strong impression on me. He was a young seminarian and he was wearing a Roman collar. I think that caused the biggest surprise. We talked about many interesting things, but the idea of the priesthood never crossed my mind. But maybe the idea of giving one year of my life in the service of others could be a possibility.

This friend had to return to the seminary and I continued on with my life. Later on, when I was about to finish my degree, I received a letter from my friend, inviting me to get to know another Legionary priest, Father Juan Pedro Oriol, LC, and he sent me his information in case I wanted to contact him. Here everything began.

My encounter with the Legion of Christ
Around this time, I don’t know why, I decided to go to Guadalajara in order to talk to Father Juan Pedro. Now I know why: I realize I was moved by the Holy Spirit who was inviting me to get to know God’s plan. The meeting with this priest made an enormous impression on me: his personality, his formation, but especially the warm welcome he gave me; he treated me as if we had been friends forever. Here began a friendship and of course, spiritual guidance. I told him that I was about to finish my Bachelor’s degree and I would like to give one year of my life to the Church to serve others, but he invited me to come and visit the novitiate of the Legion of Christ in Monterrey, Mexico. I accepted the invitation and went on the retreat that they organize around Christmastime. Usually, the first impression is crucial and this was true in my case. That first encounter with a group of Legionaries at the Novitiate really struck me. I did not know why, if it was their joy, their charity, or their fervor during the Eucharistic celebration; I really don’t know what got my attention.

I continued with spiritual direction and the idea of the vocation arose within me. The seed started to grow within my heart and at the beginning I did not want to accept it. So, I finished my Bachelor’s degree and said to myself, “Now go to work to Cancun.” There I had friends who were inviting me to join them. My spiritual director made me think of the spiritual environment in Cancun and the idea of the vocation to the priesthood could be in danger. He explicitly said, “Oswaldo, if you have vocation to the priesthood, in Cancun you are putting it in danger.”

Nevertheless, I wanted to practice what I had learned in college and actually that period of time helped me to better discern what I was called to do. Cancun, the beach, and its superficial way of life made me realize that I did not want to spend my life like that. I met people that even in this place came to me to speak about deep and personal topics, and they told me that I gave them the confidence to open up their hearts to me. At the same time I felt incapable of helping them. All these experiences helped me see the path I ought to follow with greater clarity. It was not on the beach where God wanted me. I received the light that all of us are tourists in this earthly life; that our true and final destiny is Heaven. It is there that we will be happy.

I finally took Father Juan Pedro’s advice; I left Cancun and thought of the possibility of attending a retreat to test my call to priesthood that very same summer. Once there I could decide before God if I wanted to join the novitiate or not. But the difficulties started to pop up on daily basis and one day I was offered the opportunity to go to the United States to study for a year. I didn’t want to leave without a clear answer from God. So, I decided to go to the retreat but now with the fear that I might have a vocation to the priesthood. Finally, during the retreat I decided that it couldn’t be that God was calling me to be a priest so I went back home and then to the United States, forgetting God’s call. Little did I know, once in the United States, the people that I met, both Americans and foreigners, started to ask me for spiritual advice just as in Cancun. They all wanted to talk about deep and personal topics and came to conclusion that what they were looking for was God himself. With these two experiences in Cancun and the US, I said to myself, “No more, I can’t continue like this, at the end of this year I will go back to the novitiate and test my call again.”

Joining the Legion
I got in touch again with my spiritual director and I asked him if it would be too late to test my call, thinking that the words of St. Paul, “Fear the grace of God that might pass by and never return” could be my situation. He answered that I could try again only if this time I was serious about it and did not hesitate to make a firm decision. I gave him my word. Then I had to explain the situation to my family and told them that I was leaving home to join the seminary of the Legionaries of Christ. My brothers couldn’t believe it because they knew me very well. They knew that I loved my job and that I loved to travel, go to parties, be with people. They did not know about my experiences during my stays in Cancun and the US, and for my part, I could not explain them to them, not because I did not want to, but because it was hard to express them. I can say that I have always found support from all my family and friends, and they have also been of great help and assistance in my vocation. I know that the physical separation has cost them a lot, just as it does for me, but God always takes care of everything and so I know that now they are as happy as I am.

I joined the Legion of Christ in the summer of 1998 and I took the Legionary uniform on September 14 of that same year. Now as I see my approaching ordination and my priestly ministry, I venture to assert that the best is yet to come.

Father Jesús Oswaldo Verdín Pérez, LC was born in Encarnación de Díaz, Jalisco (Mexico) on October 3, 1971. He studied in Colegio Pablo Anda. He recieved a Master’s degree in Administration of Tourism from Universidad Autónoma of Aguascalientes. He joined the Novitiate of the Legion of Christ on September 14, 1998 in Cornwall, ON (Canada). He studied Humanities in Cheshire, CT. He studied Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. He was a member of the directors and formators at the Instituto Cumbres High school in Mexico City during his apostolic internship. Currently he works as local coordinator of apostolate and as the adult section director of the Regnum Christi Movement in Puebla, Mexico.

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



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