|Fr Cleomar Ferronato, LC|
Fr Cleomar Ferronato, LC was born in Santa Helena, Paraná
(Brazil) on February 17, 1974. He entered the novitiate of
the Legion of Christ in 1991 and was ordained to
the priesthood in the year 2002. He currently serves as
the director of the St. Isabel School in Barcelona, Spain,
where he is also the local coordinator of the apostolates
of the Legion and Regnum Christi.
Fr Cleomar, what were you
looking for when you entered the Legion of Christ?
Cleomar: I have to be sincere. Honestly, what I was
looking for was my happiness, and with a sense of
urgency. It was a moment in my life when I
needed answers; I needed to find a consistent, lasting love,
an authentic love. When I met the Legion, it seemed
that I was going to find all of that there.
Little by little, I have understood the meaning of that
thirst for something greater, for something that I could not
find in my surroundings. I understood that Christ alone was
the answer. I also understood that only if I gave
myself to others would I be happy. At bottom, the
path I learned in the Legion was Christ’s, which is
self-giving to others.
What were the most important lessons you
learned in your years of formation?
Fr Cleomar: The most
important lesson I learned is that without Christ, I can
do nothing. It’s one of the truths I have most
deeply nailed into my priestly heart. And every day I
face it. Every time I leave space for my pride
or vanity, Christ calls me to him again and tells
me that he is the important one. The historic time
we are going through is helping me to purify everything
that is not Christ and to leave a much bigger
space so that his love will reach the souls. It
seems that only he can lead the Legion of Christ
to safe harbor and fulfill the mission the Church is
asking of it.
What has helped and hindered you in your
Fr Cleomar: What has most helped me is
to be humble. To return again and again to the
truth that Christ is the protagonist of my life, not
me. What has most hindered my priestly path and that
I have to fight every day is the pride that
creeps in all over the place. If I analyze my
priestly life, I find the reality that in humility there
is peace and self-giving; in pride, there is complication and
anguish. What is not always easy is that at the
base of this humility must be the truth, the sincere
seeking of my neighbor’s good. One has to live in
daily discernment and frequently ask God for grace.
Why is it
worthwhile to be a priest?
Fr Cleomar: It is worthwhile to
be a priest first of all because it is a
very deep encounter with Christ. And many times, I feel
pushed toward him. It’s enough to think of the mysteries
that are realized in the sacraments; everything speaks to you
of Christ, and in everything, Christ is there. Secondly, because
it is a life for others. Nothing I do has
any meaning if I do it for myself. I’m aware
that this seed of grace I’ve received in my priestly
ordination is alive, but it can also end up atrophied
if I am not what my priesthood asks of me.
This is the battle of every priest, 24 hours a
How do you imagine your life in the Legion in
Fr Cleomar: Really, I don’t dare imagine it,
since if I look at my first eight years of
priesthood, everything has been very dynamic and changeable. What I
do ask God is for him to grant me the
grace to persevere in my priestly vocation for his glory
and for the salvation of souls. It is so easy
to take the wrong path. Truthfully, I don’t think I’m
being pessimistic here, but the human being needs grace; he
needs Christ, and we have to keep holding onto him.
I also hope to find a Legion that is holier
than ever, more purified, more dedicated and doing a lot
of good. I really don’t see myself without it, because
I have received from it almost everything that I am.
do you hope for from your Legionary brothers in this
stage of the Legion’s history?
Fr Cleomar: I hope that
we will remain united to Christ, that we will not
trust in our own strength, that we will not think
that this is going to be an easy time. Obviously,
the difficulty doesn’t just come from the historic circumstances; it
depends a lot on each one’s interior, on their personal
story, on each one’s limitations and also on their degree
of faith, hope, and charity. In all of this, I
hope that our trust will be placed in God and
in his Church. There is nothing greater we can do
at this time than stay united to Christ in prayer,
and he will do his work.
John Paul II said
that “man is the way of the Church.” In your
priestly ministry, how do you combine the Christian imperative of
putting the person at the center with the demands of
keeping up the functioning of the works of apostolate and
of measuring and improving your own pastoral performance for love
Fr Cleomar: That is a topic that has always
worried me. Truthfully, it’s not easy. I think I have
found a secure way: humbly ask God for this gift.
On the other hand, we have to discern at every
moment and truly seek the good of the souls and
give ourselves with a lot of generosity. My experience tells
me that, unfortunately, many of the people with whom I
work in the apostolate will never commit to Christ, the
Church, or the Movement in the measure that one would
perhaps wish. But at least with the grace of God
we have sown something in their hearts, and I hope
it will bear fruit one day. This mentality means that
the works are not always going to function as well
as they should or we would like. People are limited
and have their problems, and we have to know how
to accept them and accompany them. In the end, it’s
the same patience that God has with each one of
us, which comes from a total and unselfish love.
that there will be a diversity of opinions in a
religious community as well. How can this fact be accepted
in such a way that it becomes a factor of
enrichment and not of division? Can you share an experience
along those lines?
Fr Cleomar: This is also an aspect that
we are all in the process of learning. Something that
has helped me a lot has been the six years
I spent working as an administrator and auxiliary of the
spiritual advisor at the Francisco de Vitoria University. I participated
in the creation of many projects and in the making
of decisions that were never unilateral, but collegiate. That is,
we met to find the best decision and at the
end, once it was ratified by the person in charge
or by the directive council, everyone supported it. It’s not
a question of the majority, but of seeking what is
true and good. It is very important to have a
total sincerity and at the same time, great humility to
accept that my opinion might not be the best one.
The diversity of opinions should never touch on the fundamental
things of our religious life, which are also defined by
the Church, nor should it relativize our vow of obedience,
but in everything else it is a good thing. It’s
about having the freedom to share what I think, but
without losing the perspective that I am a religious and
that I have freely given over my freedom to God,
who acts through a concrete superior. For this reason, it
is also important to prepare oneself intellectually and bring one’s
concerns to prayer in order to discern. It is there,
in prayer and in self-examination, that we also discover the
deep motives for our way of thinking and opining.