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Christ has done great things in me. Like Mary I also want to say Fiat for the rest of my life.

P. Ramón Loyola Paternina, L.C.
Father Ramon Loyola, LC
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.

One of 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.

When I 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.

A few 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 on."

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)


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