|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.
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.|
I enjoyed the atmosphere and most of all the
seminarians’ charity. There was always someone making sure that
I was taken care of.
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
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
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
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.
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.