Esteban Rodriguez, L.C.

“Habla Señor que tu siervo escucha” (1 Samuel 3, 10)

Me prometí y le prometí a Dios que la siguiente vez que tomara la decisión de ir al seminario no habría marcha atrás, que le daría todo lo que me pidiera. Y esa promesa quedó enmarcada en mi corazón.

El primer recuerdo vocacional se remonta a mis 12 años cuando amenacé a mi madre en el supermercado en tono enojado: “La próxima vez que digas a las personas en la calle que seré sacerdote no te acompaño de nuevo”, pues le gustaba comentarlo a los demás.

Quién pensaría que sería yo mismo al año siguiente comenzaría a acercarme a dos hombres vestidos de negro y divertidos que me invitaron a un campamento de verano para conocer el seminario menor. Pasado un tiempo comencé el pre seminario y luego de pasadas dos semanas de haber llegado, quise regresar a casa y se lo comenté al Padre; me sugirió tomarme tres días para pensarlo bien. Yo me olvidé por completo que quería regresar a casa, pues esos sentimientos habían pasado.

Después de unos días de convivencia me consulta de nuevo por la intención de irme a lo cual asentí pensando que ya había comprado el boleto de regreso y ya había dado mi palabra. Me lleve una sorpresa cuando en la estación de autobuses compra en ese momento el boleto y me lo entrega. Podría haberme quedado en el seminario, pero Dios tenía otros planes para atraerme a El “con lazos de amor” (Oseas 11, 4).

En el viaje de regreso recuerdo llorar mucho pensando y reviviendo el deseo de estar en el seminario y también en casa con mi familia. Me prometí y le prometí a Dios que la siguiente vez que tomara la decisión de ir al seminario no habría marcha atrás, que le daría todo lo que me pidiera. Y esa promesa quedó enmarcada en mi corazón.

Esos años posteriores al regreso del seminario ayudé en la parroquia con catequesis y luego en el coro de la parroquia. Trabajamos en retiros, campamentos, encuentros de jóvenes, adoraciones y otras actividades. Doy gracias a Dios por esos años hermosos de convivencia con tantos jóvenes con los cuales mantengo cercanía y amistad hasta la fecha. Dios estaba poniéndome en el camino correcto, estaba trabajando la tierra de mi corazón para que al momento oportuno pueda ser generoso.

Ayudando en un campamento haciendo adoración y tome la Biblia para ayudarme de la palabra de Dios para rezar y me encontré con la historia de Samuel, desde entonces cada vez que recibía a Jesús Eucaristía, le pedía “¡Habla Señor que tu siervo escucha, quiero seguirte pero no estoy seguro, ayúdame, llámame!” y hasta el día de hoy en cada comunión esas palabras surgen como una oración espontánea. Desde este momento volvió a pasar por mi mente la posibilidad de ser sacerdote.

En el verano antes del último año de secundaria, aparecen en mi vida de nuevo aquellos hombres de negro, los padres Legionarios de Cristo. Me invitaron a unas misiones por las sierras visitando unas comunidades necesitadas, estaba feliz con la invitación, pero tenía ya el compromiso con el campamento arquidiocesano y las misiones eran un día después. En casa me dijeron que una cosa o la otra, no podía dejar de ayudar en el campamento y decidí dejar de lado las misiones. La sorpresa fue cuando llegando después de esa semana, mi madre me dio permiso para ir a las misiones con los miembros del Regnum Christi. Sería de los momentos claves de mi vocación.

En las noches me quedaba viendo las estrellas, como saben en las sierras el cielo parece estar mucho más cerca. Pensaba cada noche en la llamada a Seguirlo más de cerca como sacerdote, pero tenía mis dudas y no quería dar brazo a torcer ni dejar todos mis amigos, familia y proyecto de vida.

Sucedió lo que sería el inicio de la historia de amor entre Dios y su creatura. Sé que Dios no manda a un ángel o un mensajero para darnos la seguridad en la llamada vocacional, pero se lo pedía con tanta insistencia en la oración que me diera una certeza en el llamado que al final me regaló un gesto del que no podría dudar que estaba respondiéndome a lo que le pedía.

Una noche viendo las estrellas le decía a Dios si quería que lo siguiera como sacerdote, que pase una estrella fugaz en el cielo; me lleve una gran sorpresa cuando de repente no dejo de pensarlo y veo una estrella cayendo, me quede sin habla, Dios estaba escuchando mi oración. Lo guardé como un secreto.

Pero por mi dureza de corazón y falta de fe no sería la única vez que el Señor me daría una respuesta inmediata a mi oración. Como grupo de jóvenes en la parroquia teníamos cada miércoles adoración Eucarística y en una ocasión sentado en la primera fila, veía como se juntaba la cera en el borde de la vela en el altar junto a la custodia. Nuevamente empiezo a pensar en la decisión de irme al seminario y pensé que si Dios lo quería, que me dijera con un gesto que ese camino era para mí. Pensé si Dios lo quiere, que esa cera acumulada en la vela (y que era bastante) se desprendiera como asintiendo a lo que estaba rezando en mi interior. De nuevo sin terminar casi de pensarlo el hecho se hacía realidad, la cera se desprendió y cayó en el altar, lloré por mi dureza de corazón y falta de fe. Hasta el día de hoy guardo ese pequeño pedacito de cera que me recuerda la escucha de Dios a mi oración.

Otra perla en mi vocación, le llamo así porque son el tesoro en la historia de Dios conmigo, fue una semana antes de hacer el viaje al noviciado en Brasil. Fuimos hasta la capital a dos horas de casa a comprar todo lo necesario para irme al seminario. Al final de la jornada junto con mi madre tomamos un taxi desde la casa de mi tía y nos lleva a la estación de autobuses. Llegando a casa busco mi documento de identidad y no lo encuentro, lo había perdido y era el único documento que necesitaba para pasar la frontera. Doy fe que me quedé tranquilo, pensé que si Dios quería que fuera al seminario Él se ocuparía también de esto. Creo que pocas veces experimenté tanta seguridad y fe en la acción de Dios. Pasaban los días y la oración era más confiada.

De repente faltaban dos días para el viaje y mi padre se levantó con un infarto al corazón. Eran las 6 am y en casa todo era un revuelo, mis hermanos corriendo, la ambulancia, mamá preocupada por el tercer infarto de papá y yo sin saber qué hacer. Lo llevaron a la clínica donde lo trataban en la capital. De camino esa misma mañana, a dos días de la partida, una llamada, mi tía sorprendida me cuenta que llegó un taxista y le dejó mi documento de identidad, había recordado de dónde me tomó aquel día para ir a los autobuses y pasó por la casa a regresar el documento. No lo podía creer, otra vez Dios estaba presente respondiendo, saliendo al paso de cada situación. Ahora sólo faltaba que mi papá respondiera bien a las fuertes medicinas que le habían suministrado.

Pase esa noche pensando y hablando con mi mamá, qué sería lo mejor. Agradezco el apoyo de mis hermanos porque nunca se opusieron a mi decisión. Al día siguiente entré en terapia intensiva para ver a mi padre y entre los tubos de respiración me preguntó si estaba feliz con lo que estaba por hacer. Le dije que sí. A lo que respondió, ¡si vos sos feliz, yo soy feliz! Así fue como dejándolo todo emprendí el viaje a esta aventura que es seguir a Cristo como su sacerdote, como su misionero, como su Legionario de Cristo.

María Santísima también ha tenido un especio privilegiado en mi vocación. Recuerdo mi oración constante cada noche de esos dos años de noviciado en Sao Paolo, Brasil, delante de la imagen de María de Guadalupe le pedía que me concediera la gracia de dar la extremaunción a mi papá. En pocas palabras que llegara a verme sacerdote. Pero después de una semana en España para mis estudios humanísticos me llaman de casa para darme la noticia de su partida. En el momento lloré desconsolado por que no había recibido los santos oleos y el viático, me enoje con la Virgen María porque se lo pedí tanto tiempo y con todo el fervor que podía y no me lo concedió.

Pude llegar a su velatorio. Ver a mi familia alrededor del ataúd es una imagen que nunca borraré de mi mente. Acercarme y rezar el santo rosario junto a él era lo único que deseaba y así lo hice. Siempre cargo conmigo una imagen o una medalla de la Virgen y en ese momento antes de cerrar el ataúd saqué mi estampita y se la puse en el bolsillo interno de su saco diciéndole que esa era su entrada para llegar al cielo. María es el camino más seguro para llegar al cielo.

Desde ese momento María no me ha dejado nunca, cada dificultad en esos años de formación y de trabajo apostólico me ha tomado por la mano con tanta paciencia y me ha educado no sin dolor, pero si con mucho amor. Me considero un loco enamorado de su dulce Madre del cielo.

Soy feliz respondiendo a la llamada que Dios me hizo hace años y que me repite en cada Eucaristía: te elegí para amar. Dame Jesús la gracia de la perseverancia final y nunca permitas que me aparte de Tí. Gracias por fijarte en alguien tan insignificante como este servidor y elevarme a las gradas del altar haciéndome otro Cristo para mis hermanos los hombres.

Esteban RodriguezEl P. Esteban Javier Rodríguez, L.C., nació el 20 de septiembre de 1985 en la ciudad de Metán, Salta, Argentina. Entró en la Legión de Cristo a los 18 años de edad. Tras completar los años de noviciado en Sao Paolo, Brasil pasó un semestre en la comunidad de Betania en Buenos Aires y después un año de humanidades clásicas en Salamanca, España. Realizó sus años de prácticas apostólicas como promotor vocacional en el sur de la Ciudad de México. La filosofía y la teología las estudió en el Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum en Roma, Italia. Actualmente desarrolla su ministerio en la pastoral vocacional en Guatemala, El Salvador y Costa Rica.

Esteban Castellanos, L.C.

“Alcanzando la meta de vuestra fe, la salvación de las almas” (1 Pt. 1,9)

Alguna vez escuché que los empresarios exitosos invierten en sus negocios más a largo plazo que a corto plazo; que así también un joven debe invertir su tiempo y energía estudiando una buena carrera para tener un buen trabajo después y esto mismo se aplica a muchos otros ámbitos como puede ser la salud física, la inteligencia…

Esto me hizo pensar que debo invertir mi vida en algo que valga realmente la pena: ¡La salvación de las almas empezando por la propia! Recuerdo que desde niño cuando viajábamos en familia de camino rezábamos el rosario y nunca faltó esta intención en nuestra oración: “la salvación de nuestras almas”.

               En mi familia tuve unas bases sólidas de la fe y fue de gran apoyo, para conservarla y transmitirla, la gracia que tuve desde pequeño de estar inmerso en esta realidad del Regnum Christi: En 3ro de primaria entré en el Instituto Irlandés de Hermosillo donde estaban muy presentes los padres, los hermanos y los colaboradores del Regnum Christi; después me incorporé al ECYD y luego más grande al Regnum Christi participando en retiros, misiones y otros apostolados.

               En preparatoria tuve una fuerte confrontación con la realidad. Pensaba que todos tenían el mismo conocimiento y experiencia de su fe católica que yo. Empecé a tener muy buenos amigos y amigas con mentalidades muy diferentes a la mía pero ello no me alejaba de ellos sino, que al contrario, me hizo quererlos más. Se despertó en mí una gran ilusión de que ellos pudieran experimentar el gozo y la felicidad que se tiene de estar cerca de Cristo y que esto no está en contradicción con que puedan disfrutar de su vida (como muchas veces pensaban).

               La inquietud de que probablemente Dios me estaba llamando a ser sacerdote, la tuve desde pequeño pero la ignoré por mucho tiempo. Por más que pasaba el tiempo nunca se me quitaba esta inquietud. A veces pensaba en los testimonios de varios sacerdotes donde decían que antes de consagrarse a Dios tenían todo en sus vidas pero sentían un gran vacío y decidieron dejarlo todo para ser sacerdotes. Yo no me identificaba con ellos, ni sentía ese “vacío”. Disfrutaba de la vida y a la vez era feliz.

Sentía esa inquietud de que Dios me quería sacerdote para salvar almas, pero ¡No quería ser sacerdote! Quería ayudar a mis seres queridos desde dentro, con mi testimonio de vida. Recuerdo que me llegó mucho el comentario de un amigo que me decía “en vez de ir a ayudar a quien sabe quién, ayúdanos a nosotros tus amigos que estamos aquí, nosotros te necesitamos”.

Quise olvidar esto de la vocación a ser legionario alejándome del Regnum Christi, dejándome llevar más por el ambiente del mundo, las fiestas… pero cuando veía gente muy querida alejada de Dios se despertaba en mí el deseo de ayudarles a encontrar esa felicidad que buscaban en otros lados pero que sólo está en Dios.

               Terminé la preparatoria y quise reflexionar sobre esta inquietud vocacional que tenía dando años como colaborador del Regnum Christi. Terminando los dos años de colaborador en León Gto, quise hacer la prueba de si Dios me llamaba. Me quedaba la pregunta ¿y mi gran ilusión de “ayudar a mis seres queridos desde dentro”? En el fondo lo que buscaba es ayudar a que se salven. El único que puede dar esa gracia es Dios; el Espíritu Santo actúa como quiere y cuando quiere. Sentía que Dios me pedía ser su instrumento como sacerdote Legionario de Cristo para ayudar a otros a salvarse. Cuando tomé esta decisión de responder a su llamado ¡cuánto me entusiasmó esta misión que Dios me daba! sin olvidar a mis familiares y amigos a quienes puedo seguir ayudando con mí entrega a Dios y mis oraciones.

Esteban CastellanosLa inquietud de que probablemente Dios me estaba llamando a ser sacerdote, la tuve desde pequeño pero la ignoré por mucho tiempo. Por más que pasaba el tiempo nunca se me quitaba esta inquietud.

Diego Arregui, L.C.

No teman. Yo estaré con ustedes todos los días.

No puedo volver la vista atrás sin maravillarme de la manera en la que Dios ha estado presente en cada momento de mi vida. En medio de tantos eventos y de las circunstancias tan cambiantes, se ve clara una constante en mi vocación: la mano amorosa de Dios. Él prometió acompañarnos siempre, y así ha sido. Dios es fiel.

Estoy muy agradecido con Dios por haberme llamado al sacerdocio en la Legión de Cristo. Desde pequeño respiré en mi familia un ambiente de fe muy real. Sólo Dios sabe cuánto he aprendido de mis papás. Fueron ellos quienes, con su ejemplo de vida cristiana, me inculcaron la fe y el amor a Dios y a su voluntad. Tengo dos hermanos y una hermana, a los que les debo mucho. Mis dos abuelitas han sido un ejemplo para mí de fortaleza y de amor a la voluntad de Dios. Ellas nos transmitieron también la devoción a la Virgen María y al Sagrado Corazón. En ese ambiente fue creciendo la semilla que Dios sembró en mi corazón. Estudié con los Legionarios, por lo que los conocía y apreciaba mucho.

No sé cuándo comencé a sentir mi vocación. Ya desde muy pequeño me sorprendí queriendo ser sacerdote. Recuerdo que en la escuela, antes de entrar a la primaria, la maestra nos pidió que hiciéramos un dibujo de lo que queríamos ser cuando creciéramos; yo, con los trazos artísticos de un niño de seis años, dibujé un sacerdote, que más bien era como una casulla con patitas y cabeza. Recuerdo también diversas ocasiones en que la gente me preguntaba qué quería ser de grande, y respondía que sacerdote. Me gustaba acolitar y leer en la Misa de mi parroquia, ayudado por mi papá. También ayudaba a mi tía, que es catequista y de quien he aprendido mucho.

Un día fui a Misa en la catedral de Guadalajara. Como en otras ocasiones, me pidieron leer las oraciones de los fieles. Y, como era costumbre, se pidió por las vocaciones sacerdotales. Recuerdo que después de comulgar volvió a mi mente, con mucha fuerza, la idea de ser sacerdote. Y pensé que quizá esta vez debía hacer algo para ver si Dios me llamaba. Pero no sabía qué hacer y me daba miedo la incerteza del futuro. En mi oración levanté la mirada y vi una imagen de la Virgen de Guadalupe. Me inspiró mucha paz y seguridad. Desde entonces ella ha sido siempre mi compañera en las buenas y en las malas.

Hablé con mi mamá y le dije que pensaba que Dios me pedía ser sacerdote. Después se lo conté también a mi papá y a mis hermanos. Todos me han apoyado mucho desde entonces. Después fui a hablar con el P. Carlos Mora (e.p.d.) que era un buen amigo de la familia. Él me animó mucho y me invitó a ir a visitar la apostólica de León.

Así que en Semana Santa fui a León con el P. Enrique Flores y otros niños de mi edad. El ambiente me gustó mucho. De lunes a jueves misionamos por las casas de un pueblo cercano. El Triduo Santo lo vivimos en la apostólica, en un ambiente de mucho recogimiento para acompañar al Señor. Estando en esos días en la capilla, sentí que Dios me estaba llamando. No escuché nada, pero era una invitación y una ilusión muy especial en mi corazón. Veía su amor tan grande por mí, y me preguntaba qué haría yo por Él. Después de esa semana, fui de vacaciones con mi familia. Pero por dentro yo seguía pensando mucho en la vocación. Rodeado por la belleza de la naturaleza me puse a reflexionar en todo lo que Dios había hecho por mí. Sabía que Él me llamaba, y me daba cuenta de que no podía decirle que no. Le respondí que sí.

Entré a la apostólica del Ajusco ese verano; tenía 17 años. Fui a la ciudad de México porque en Guadalajara todavía no había precandidatado. Al año siguiente comencé mi noviciado en Dublín, Irlanda. Fueron dos años de aprender muchas cosas, en lo humano y en lo espiritual. Sobre todo fue tiempo para profundizar en la llamada de amor de Dios, y en mi respuesta. Pude conocer y profundizar en la espiritualidad y carisma de la Legión. Eran ideas que resonaban en mi interior, como si estuvieran hechas para mí, sentía que Dios me había creado para ser legionario. El 12 de septiembre de 2004 profesé mis votos de pobreza, castidad y obediencia para consagrarme a Dios y a su Iglesia en la Legión.

Después de estudiar humanidades y filosofía en Salamanca, fui a Estados Unidos para ayudar en nuestro noviciado de Cheshire, CT. Me gustó mucho el ambiente que se vivía ahí. Aprendí mucho del instructor y de los novicios, que comenzaban con ilusión a conocer la vida religiosa y sacerdotal en la Legión. El 15 de agosto de 2015 hice mi profesión perpetua en Monterrey, acompañado de mis papás y hermanos. De nuevo pude comprobar que Dios es fiel, y que, a pesar de mis miserias, Él se comprometía conmigo: Yo contigo iré. Como en la vida de todo ser humano, he vivido momentos difíciles, pero nunca he estado solo. Me consuelan mucho las palabras de María a san Juan Diego: ¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?

Por último volví a Roma para estudiar la teología. Vivir en Roma es muy especial, pues estando cerca del Papa uno puede apreciar mejor la maravilla de la Iglesia Católica. Pude también participar muy de cerca en el en el Capítulo General de la Legión, un momento hermoso de nuevo entusiasmo por Cristo, por nuestro carisma y misión.

El 9 de julio de 2016 recibí la ordenación diaconal en Guadalajara, rodeado de mi familia y amigos. Fue un regalo inmenso, y aunque me sentía pequeño, me pude apoyar de manera muy real en las oraciones de muchas personas queridas.

Agradezco a todos aquellos que han rezado por mí y por las vocaciones sacerdotales, muchos de los cuales solo conoceré en el cielo. De la misma manera doy gracias a tantas personas generosas que nos han ayudado con sus recursos, tiempo y servicios.

darreguiEl P. Diego Arregui Castelló nació en Guadalajara, México. Es el segundo de una familia de cuatro hijos. Ingresó a la Legión de Cristo como precandidato en la apostólica del Ajusco en el 2001. Hizo su noviciado en Irlanda y profesó sus primeros votos en 2003. Estudió humanidades clásicas en España, y después filosofía en Italia. Durante sus prácticas apostólicas colaboró como asistente de novicios en el Noviciado de Cheshire, en Estados Unidos. Hizo su profesión perpetua el 15 de agosto de 2010. Completó sus estudios de teología en Roma. Fue ordenado sacerdote en Guadalajara, México, el 9 de julio del 2016 por el Cardenal Francisco Robles. Actualmente realiza su ministerio como Instructor de Formación del Instituto Cumbres de Caracas y director del ECYD en la misma ciudad.

David Parker, L.C.

A Vocation from a Vocation

Back in 1981, a young man entered as a Postulant for the religious life.  Discerning that his call was not to the priesthood or the religious life, at the same time meeting his future wife, he would eventually marry the love of his life in 1983.

At the same time, the religious community came to the wife and said, “now that you have taken one of ours, you must give one of yours back.”  That “one” would be born in April 1984.  As a married couple, they decided to place their new family into the hands of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  On December 8th, this couple and that 8 month-old baby would be placed under the maternal love of Mary our Mother, consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.

That is the beginning of my vocation, under the protection and motherly love of Mary.  Growing up, I would learn from my grandma to love our Mother Mary; she would bring me out to her shrine as a little boy of 5 years, to kiss the head of Mary and ask her to be close to me. Mary has always been close to me ever since that day that I was consecrated to her.

But there was another man that she would also be close to, my dad.  Throughout the years of marriage, his closeness with our mother Mary would bring him to understand that God still had more for him, and this would be lived out in union with his better half in my mother.  Ever since I can remember, my dad spoke to my brothers and sisters and I of his desire to serve our Lord as a deacon.  Our Lord would give him many graces for this mission, especially the grace of counsel, but with 6 kids in the house, he could not at the time enter into the mission.  However, his desire to serve our Lord would have an influence on his son.  On the other hand, my mother would also show us what it meant to always look for the good in others, seeking to serve her family and others at any moment and any time.  They would be the centerpiece of my vocation.

At 12 years old, I met my first Legionary Fr. Juan Gabriel Guerra at my uncle’s house when he gave a retreat to 20 Parker cousins.  My aunt “Kitty” Zeik, who is a Regnum Christi member, invited Fr. Juan to give a retreat to her family in Wisconsin.  It was from this moment that I would go to numerous retreats in Edgerton, WI where the Legionaries run an international school called Oaklawn Academy.  For 6 years I was involved with the Legion.  I entered into ECYD, a Catholic youth organization under Regnum Christi to grow as a true friend of Jesus; I went with Legionaries to St. Louis and Atlanta for the Youth and Family Encounters and made three trips to their “minor seminary” called Immaculate Heart Apostolic School in New Hampshire.  For many years I was involved with Fr. Matthew Van Smoorenburg along with other Legionaries who mentored me (one of them being my Aunt Kitty’s son Matthew who was a Legionary at the time) and taught me to love our Lord in the Eucharist, entrust my life to Mary, and grow in love with a spirituality that the Legionaries lived in their priesthood.

There was a snag, though.  As I continued in my high school years, I set my eyes on worldly glory, seeking for honors, sponsorships, football, weightlifting, track, rugby, extracurricular activities as well as elected positions.  I sought to fill my curriculum vitae for college, but emptied myself of the true significance of my actions – the greater honor and glory of God.  Meanwhile, my father watched his son take a path down the hill of self-pity.  One day, I complained to my Dad that nothing was going right for me, the way I planned them.  His response was to say those dreaded words: “Son, come into my room,” and shut the door behind you. Just like the day when he sat me on his bed to tell me that Santa Claus…well you know, he would again sit me on that same bed about 12 years later as he told me these words,”Son, you are being ridiculous.  When was the last time you trusted in God, or is your best not good enough for him?” Stunned, I had no words to reply, but those words would affect me for the rest of my life.  Our Lord was not finished with my dad, for his words of wisdom would be a sign as our Lord would guide him to help others at work and at home. His desire to be a deacon still was in his mind and heart.

After that discussion with my dad, my life changed.  A tremendous joy pervaded in my life, accompanied by a return to our Lord, and new friendships that I had once lost because of my self-centeredness.  Still our Lord was knocking as a familiar Legionary at the time – Fr. Chad Wahl – called me (I had ignored him for almost a year and a half) and asked me to help with a retreat in Edgerton. I went with a bit of reservation, but upon arriving, I found that I was the only one to help with nearly fifty kids.  Fr. Chad was there at my side, and he broke the question to me that I had delayed for a couple of years; he asked me if I was still thinking about the priesthood.  I was caught off guard, but I did say yes.  He suggested to me that I take a pilgrimage to Rome.  Coming from a family of humble finances, this did not seem to be an option, but our Lord had other plans.

As I prepared for the possibility for the trip, I realized that we missed a golden opportunity for a good price.  The flight became too expensive.  I told my dad that it would not be possible anymore.  Right then, dad went to the computer, took out his credit card, and bought the tickets for my trip.  He said, “If our Lord doesn’t pay for it, he doesn’t pay for it.  Like so many other instances in his life, he would trust in the Holy Spirit and discern what to do for the good of his son.  A week later came financial help from the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Knights (Now “Catholic Financial Life”) making the trip possible. Again, I learned to trust in the Lord.

I made the trip to Rome to discern my vocation, but at the beginning, it was more a joy trip.  It was on January 1st, 2003 that our Lord gave me the grace to say yes as I looked into the eyes of St. John Paul II. With a powerful gaze, this man who could barely stand, gave me the courage to give everything to our Lord, just as he had done all his life. It was a day later I found myself at the altar of St. Francis Xavier, where Fr. John Bartunek gave a reflection on the life of this missionary saint and invited us to ask for his intercession.  Innocently praying there, I was reminded that I was baptized at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay, and the missionary zeal of this Saint made me realize that our Lord did not call me to the diocesan life but to the religious life.  On January 3rd, I again entrusted my life to Mary as I incorporated into the Regnum Christi Movement.  I returned home with the conviction that our Lord called me to the Legionaries of Christ whose mission attracted me to live as our Lord’s missionary.

Two years later I found myself in Monterrey, Mexico where I professed for the first time the Evangelical Councils of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.  Just before that, my dad made the decision to enter the diaconate program for the Diocese of Green Bay, but that was short-lived; visiting our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, our Lady would have other plans.  While in the Basilica praying to Mary, my mom lost feeling in her legs.  Dad and I had to reach out to her to keep her from falling.  During the whole week in Mexico, mom’s feet were swelling and she did not know why (she thought it was the salt in the Mexican food).  Two weeks later, after my parents got back to Wisconsin, my mom called me in Mexico to let me know the shocking news…after 14 years, she was again pregnant with my little sister Ava.  My dad would not be able to continue on his path to the diaconate just yet.

5 years later, I was speaking to my dad on the phone, and he told me that two priests in the diocese had told him that they thought he would be a good deacon.  In these five years, he was one of the founding members of Esto-Vir (Be a Man!), a Catholic Men’s group in the Green Bay Diocese.  He founded a ConQuest club in Green Bay.  He was also called upon to be a member of the Board of Total Catholic Education for his parish.  It was then he was again confronted with his vocation to the diaconate as the Holy Spirit inspired in my heart to say something to Bishop David Ricken.  Bp. Ricken had just finished helping Bp Chaput with the difficult Visitation the Legion had a year earlier.  Bp. Ricken told me that he also thought my dad may have a vocation to the diaconate and that he would approach him in a couple months to speak to him about his becoming a deacon.

It was in that moment that my dad, with the approval of my mom decided to begin what was started 5 years before; he officially began his path to the diaconate.  When dad told me that Bp. Ricken spoke with him (he did not know at the time I spoke with the bishop about this) and his formation would take 5 years, I could not believe it!  After counting carefully on my fingers – literally – I realized that our Lord had put us both on a path that would have us ordained to the diaconate at the same time.

In these last 5 years, dad and I have grown very close to each other, not only as father and son, but also sharing together a vocation; both realizing mutually what God was calling us to as his own for the service of our brothers and sisters.  And now, as we are nearing the end of our formation to be ordained to the diaconate, I realize that God desired that our vocations would be a vocation each coming one from the other.  My vocation came from a mother and a father who always trusted in the Holy Spirit and who lived with great charity and focus on others.  My dad’s vocation would begin in an innocent dialogue with his son.  And now, our vocations would come together to be shared on May 7th, 2016 in Pulaski, WI where both of us will be configured to Christ the Servant, under the guidance and closeness of our Mother in Heaven.  Once begun in our consecration to Mary on the Immaculate Conception would be completed at our home parish dedicated to Mary’s Assumption.  Together with Mary, we will both prepare to be present on the following day at the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, serving at the altar.  The priest will lift up our Lord in his hands upon the altar as we, both deacons, will witness next to the priest our Lord being lifted up like he was on that Ascension Day.  Here we will hear the words of the angel, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring into heaven?”  We will be sent to witness to others what we will witness each day upon that altar; the love and mercy of our Lord!

parker-davidBr David Parker Jr., LC was born in Green Bay, WI.  His dad was born in Bloomington, MN and his mom was born in Chicago, IL.  From 5 years old on, he lived in Pulaski, WI while his dad worked at the Airport at Green Bay and his mom stayed home to take care of 6 children. He was introduced to the Legion when he was 12 years old through his Aunt Katherine Zeik who is a Regnum Christi in St. Louis and his cousin Matthew Zeik who was in the Apostolic School. Br David attended for 6 years retreats at Oaklawn Academy with the Legion and entered into the Candidacy in Cheshire in 2003.  His first year of Novitiate was in Cheshire and his second was in Monterrey, MX.  He return for one year of humanities in Cheshire and then went for 2 years of Philosophy in Thornwood, NY.  He did 2 of his 3 years of internship visiting and thanking benefactors out of Thornwood and the last year out of Chicago.  He returned to Rome to start a License in Philosophy and then 3 years for a Bachelorate in Theology.

Daniel Rolczynski, L.C.

God and Grace and Gratitude

I knew for sure that this was it, and that conviction carried me through the remaining five months as a volunteer, a month at home afterwards, the candidacy that summer of 2005, and even through many difficult, obscure, confusing, painful moments during these 11 years of formation.  It has been the bedrock of my vocation, a moment for which I cannot but thank God with all my heart.

            Is it really possible to construct and live your whole life centered on God?  Why would anyone want to live with a vow of obedience?  A vow of chastity, really? Isn’t that archaic?  These and many others are questions that people have asked me over the last 11 years of seminary and religious life.  Oftentimes words simply come up short.  When these questions are asked, the interrogator wants to see something more than hear something, wants a witness, a testimony, more than a poignant response.

            I am from Richfield, Minnesota, the first suburb on the southern border of Minneapolis.  I was raised by Catholic parents, who were themselves raised by Catholics.  Sunday Mass was always a non-negotiable. It was actually a fun part of the road trips that were frequently our family vacation when Sunday rolled around and we had to find Mass in the middle of nowhere Colorado or somewhere in the black hills.  The family rosary on Sunday evening was also a fixture present in my childhood.  I was born on December 8, 1985, the first child of Dan and Mary Jo Rolczynski.  My two brothers followed in the years following.

The first movie that I recall seeing in theaters was Aladdin.  It was with a neighbor kid when we were up visiting grandma and grandpa’s.  That scene at the end when Jafar turns into a snake really freaked me out. I was into country music- that’s pretty much all I remember my mom listening to on the radio in the car.  My first experience of copernican revolution came when I was maybe 12-ish years old when I discovered that none of my friends listened to country music.  That was it for me and country music for at least a decade.  I have made a few exceptions in recent years.  As a kid I played on soccer, basketball, and baseball teams.  Of course, we always played football for fun.  I went to Catholic schools through 6th grade.  For 7th-12th grades I transferred to Trinity, a private, christian school that offered a liberal arts approach to education replete with four years of latin and wonderful seminary classes through high school in which we would read and discuss great texts and authors through history.  It taught us how to think and discuss in ways we didn’t appreciate, mostly, until years afterwards.  I loved playing basketball through high school and remember those years with much gratitude.  I am still in touch with many of those friends and two of them were even able to make it to my diaconate ordination.  They represented many others who were a very important part of my life during those most interesting years.

When I was in ninth grade a friend of mine invited me and a few others on a weekend retreat with the Legionary brothers.  I did not know them but my folks gave me the green light.  We had a great time. It was basically sports all day, broken up only by meals, sleep at night, and a series of talks that were offered to us by these “brothers.”  It left an impression.  I still remember the theme of the retreat: being men of conviction in today’s world.  I had never been on a retreat like that where the audience was uniquely adolescents of an age for whom all the talks were tailor-made.  It made an impression.  There were a few moments during those years when the thought occurred to me: “if God calls me to the priesthood, I would check it out.”  Were that hypothetical call to take place, I now had a more concrete direction in which to direct my possible discernment.

I ended up joining the fourth stage of ECYD (because I was already 15) that summer at a week-long camp.  The following summer, at 16, I joined Regnum Christi.  As far as I know, I was one of two and a half high school age Regnum Christi members in the twin cities.  There were others who may have been, but they were mostly in the the Legion’s high school seminary in New Hampshire.  I had regularly contact with the Legionaries who would visit our area every month or two.  We would meet for spiritual direction and there were camps and other events they put together now and then throughout the year.

My contact with them turned out to be, I am convinced, of vital importance.  Sophomore and junior year of high school were years of great change.  Thanks be to God for the good friends I had and for the spiritual support I received from the Legionaries and through Regnum Christi.  Prior to those years I felt that I knew and could hang out with just about everyone in my class (there were only 70 of us).  All of a sudden, during those two years, the landscape changed drastically: people were drinking, others were smoking (tobacco et al.)… some folks were starting to party pretty hard.  At that point I always felt like life was plenty enjoyable and wonderful without that stuff and I really saw no need, had no desire to get wasted or high.  I did love a good time, though, and I wonder sometimes where I may have ended up had the spiritual reinforcements I received thanks to the Legion and Regnum Christi not been there.  I have no doubt that the discipline of regular prayer, the apostolic engagement, and the formation received in this spiritual family of Regnum Christi were invaluable sources of conviction and encouragement during those years of turbulence.  It was progress on the spiritual construction whose foundations had been laid by mom and dad.  That, together with the wonderful community of friends that I had, helped me to get through those years with no major problems or regrets, but rather with so many wonderful memories and bonds which have lasted to the present day.

I knew very little about what my future would hold.  One thing that I knew for certain, however, was that I wanted- needed!- a sense of purpose and direction.  I prayed a lot for guidance and light during senior year.  I went on a vocational retreat.  And while I prayed and watched for an answer to those prayers, I applied to several colleges.  I mean, on the off chance that an answer to those prayers did not come in the timetable I was hoping for, I did not want to be caught unprepared.  As I continued praying, time continued passing.  The end of the school year came and we went.  We signed yearbooks.  We graduated.  I decided on a university and went through orientation that summer.  I was working to save money for college.  Then another opportunity came up.  In one of my last spiritual directions with Fr. Robert, the Legionary priest in our area at the time, he invited me to visit the Legionary seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut.  On the rationale that I wanted to be generous with God I decided to give it a shot. The dates of the trip were August 2-11, 2004.  What a week.

I spent the week with the candidates in Cheshire at the time, those who a year later would be welcoming me into the novitiate.  It was a nice experience but I cannot say that I felt a call to put on my black tie and join them.  God had something else in store.  Just by chance (right…) there was a weekend retreat being offered during my visit.  The priest offering the retreat, Fr. Eamon, took the time to speak to each of us visitors individually in spiritual direction to see how we were doing and where we were at.  When I spoke to him I mentioned that I was open to the priesthood and that, should God call me to that, I would look seriously at the Legionaries.  He made a rather off hand comment that had radical repercussions in my life.  He simply said, “well, being that you are a Regnum Christi member, why don’t you consider doing a year of volunteer work in the Regnum Christi Mission Corps? That way you can discern and the Legion can see if you could be a candidate for Legionary life.”  Now a friend of mine had given a year the year previous to that (my senior year of high school) and he had encouraged me to give a year but it had never really become a real possibility for me.  I went to the chapel to pray (the humanities chapel in Cheshire) after talking with Father and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

It was really a special grace.  All of a sudden, in that moment of prayer, it was as though everything leading up to that came into focus.  I received a call in that moment, a call to give a year.  In that moment, in that chapel, it became crystal clear to me that this was God’s invitation to me for the coming year.  I knew it because the grace came by way of an absolute certainty.  It was an answer to my prayers over the previous year for guidance and light.  I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that I was being invited and called by God to volunteer for the coming year in Regnum Christi.  It was a profound, unique, and very special grace.  Indeed, it was one of the biggest moments of grace and of experience God’s presence in my life.

The lesson I learned from this was simple.  Sometimes we need to invest in our discernment.  What I mean is that showing God with our action that we really interested in his will can make a big difference.  I had been praying to know his will for a year and He chose to answer that prayer when I got out of my comfort zone and took more concrete steps to discern his will for my life.

This grace left me so convinced (I was absolutely sure!) that I canceled college the next week, two and a half weeks before I was to move into the dorms.  I was finally tasting what I so longed for: purpose and clear direction in my life, albeit only for the following year.  After cancelling college I then called the director of the volunteer program to sign up.  What I did not know was that there a month-long formation course in the summer for the volunteers.  I had already completely missed it.  When Fr. Michael answered the phone I said, “hi, I’m DJ Rolczynski and I would like to volunteer this year. Is that ok?”  His response was brief: “Um, yeah.  Who are you?”

I thoroughly enjoyed that year.  I was assigned to the Legionary seminary 40 minutes north of New York City.  I taught catechism, helped in boy’s clubs for faith formation, and matured a lot.

The highlight of the year (on several levels) was when they invited all the volunteers that year to visit Rome for two weeks of sightseeing and then the 8-day silent retreat (spiritual exercises).  We had to pay our own way to get there, of course, which I was able to do with the last dollars I had saved up for my college fund.  The volunteers from Mexico were there, coming out to about 55 jovenes.  All the American volunteers were there, too, all 14 of us.  Talk about culture shock.  I would not know where to begin describing that.  I will stick to the script… During our first two weeks there we saw John Paul II 3 times- twice at general audiences and once for Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on new year’s day.  Little did we know that he would pass away the following April.  After the first general audience the whole group of Regnum Christi volunteers was invited up on the stage for a group photo with the Holy Father.  Maybe you can crank up your imagination a few notches to understand, especially now looking back, how incredible that was.  St. John Paul II.  We visited Florence, Orvieto, Siena, and Assisi.  And to cap all this off we had the spiritual exercises retreat at the end.

Going into that retreat I said “look God.  We have eight days here.  If we can’t settle this open priesthood question in eight solid days together, I mean, just forget about it.”  I drew the proverbial (I really wanted to use that word) line in the sand.  And guess what? God only took four days.  Yep, it happened on day four.  It was much like that grace I received when called to the volunteer year.  In a moment of prayer it dawned on me (#HolySpirit) that many young men out there never even consider the priesthood.  I was as open to the priesthood as I was because, indeed, it was my calling.  It was that simple.  But when that idea hit me over the head I knew that I had found the precious pearl.  I knew that this, again, was God answering my prayers in a big way.  There was no second-guessing, no doubt, no room for a misunderstanding.  I knew for sure that this was it, and that conviction carried me through the remaining five months as a volunteer, a month at home afterwards, the candidacy that summer of 2005, and even through many difficult, obscure, confusing, painful moments during these 11 years of formation.  It has been the bedrock of my vocation, a moment for which I cannot but thank God with all my heart.

The first domino (or two) had fallen.  I joined the Legionary seminary in Cheshire and was there for three years studying humanities.  I then moved to our seminary in Thornwood where I studied the first year of philosophy and then did a year and a half of full-time apostolic work.  I was then transferred to Philadelphia for another year and a half of apostolic work, after which I departed for Rome for my second year of philosophy and then theology.  The dominos continue falling…

During the three years of apostolic work and the four afterwards in Rome I forged the strongest friendships from the last decade of my life.  Some of those friends are priests, some are in my ordination class, some continue up the ranks behind me, and others discerned that they were not called to the priesthood or religious life.  All of these are among my best friends, and it meant so much that so many of them were there on the day I was ordained to the diaconate in northern Indiana.

After living in so many different places, always striving as a sinful man to follow the Lord’s daily call to holiness, and meeting so many people, diaconate ordination, as a conclusion to the long years of formation and preparation, was a conclusion that truly brought me to my knees.  The Legionaries in Indiana did such a wonderful job organizing everything and making us feel at home.  Bishop Hying (who ordained us) was so gracious, funny, humble, encouraging, and exemplary.  I was surrounded by so many people who are so important to me and who have been there through all the stages of my life and growth.

I found myself experiencing one single emotion.  I found myself capable of one prayer.  I found myself able to say only one phrase: thank you. Thank you, Lord, for the most amazing day of my life.  Gratitude is all I have in my heart as I go forward to my new assignment/mission/country.  Thank you for so many prayers, for so much love.  Thanks to all who have been living expressions of God’s presence in my life, who have shared with me His closeness, correction, and consolation.  Please continue to pray for us. Thank you.

rolczynski-danielFr. Daniel Rolczynski is from Richfield, Minnesota and was born on December 8, 1985.  He joined Regnum Christi when he was 16 and volunteered a year in the Regnum Christi Mission Corps after high school.  He joined the novitiate the following year, in 2005, and spent the following three years in Cheshire for novitiate and the study of classical humanities.  He then moved to Thornwood, New York to study philosophy.  After one year of studies he was asked to begin his apostolic internship as a vocation promotor in New York and New Jersey.  He carried out this work for a year and half, at which point he was asked to continue with the same assignement but with Philadelphia as his home base.  He promoted vocations there for another year and a half before transferring to Rome for four years to complete his studies.  He is now serving in the Regnum Christi youth section in Mexico City.

Carlos Zanatta, L.C.

Enséñame a hacer tu voluntad, porque tú eres mi Dios; tu buen Espíritu me guíe a tierra firme. (Sal. 143, 10)

¿Nunca te has preguntado qué es lo que verdaderamente vale la pena en la vida? Esa pregunta estuvo dando vueltas por mi cabeza durante algunos años. Dios que la había puesto en mi interior se encargaría de darle respuesta a su tiempo. Déjame que te cuente como sucedió todo.

Pasaban los días uno tras otro y cada mañana, camino al trabajo en una planta automotriz, al pasar entre las interminables líneas de producción de autos, surgían siempre las mismas preguntas; ¿Para qué tanto coche? ¿Quién los compra? ¿Alguna vez será suficiente? En el fondo estaba criticando el materialismo reinante en este mundo.

Estas preguntas y muchas más, invariablemente desembocaban en una misma pregunta: ¿Qué es lo que verdaderamente vale la pena en esta vida? No lo sabía todavía, pero mi alma tenía sed de infinito, de eternidad y por ello no encontraba una respuesta en el materialismo que me rodeaba.

Esta pregunta surgió en mí, poco a poco. Creo que tuvo que ver con un episodio en mi vida en el cual casi pierdo la vida, un incidente de carretera. Sucedió todo muy rápidamente. Ante lo que parecía una muerte inminente, pasaron en un instante delante de mí todas las personas que más amaba, una por una y, al final, un sentimiento de que no podía acabar todo ahí, que me faltaba tanto por hacer. Todo esto en un instante. Recuerdo que una vez pasado todo esto, reflexionando con calma lo que había pasado, tuve el presentimiento de que Dios tenía para mí grandes planes, pero nunca me imaginé cuan grandes.

Sobrevivir a una experiencia así no te puede dejar indiferente, te hace cuestionarte muchas cosas sobre la propia vida: cómo la estoy aprovechando, para qué estoy aquí, qué sentido tiene mi vida, etc. Eran muchas preguntas las que me venían a la mente, pero poco a poco fui encontrando la pregunta que lo resumía todo, la más importante: ¿Qué es lo que verdaderamente vale la pena en esta vida? O dicho de otra forma ¿Qué es lo que da la felicidad en esta vida?

Al menos tres años me llevó contestar esa pregunta y la respuesta llegó poco a poco, después de muchos momentos de reflexión. Yo tenía la certeza de que Dios me amaba. Desde que recuerdo, siempre me he sentido un consentido de Dios. Ahora bien, pensaba yo, si Dios me ama, quiere lo mejor para mí, y seguramente será lo mejor para mí, pues Dios no se puede equivocar. Por lo tanto, lo que realmente me va a hacer feliz es la voluntad de Dios en mi vida. Por mucho tiempo creí que era yo solo quien había llegado a esta respuesta, hoy sé que detrás de todo ello se encontraba el Espíritu Santo que con maestría y paciencia me llevaba por el buen camino.

Así que me dediqué a buscar la voluntad de Dios en mi vida, pero ¿Dónde la podría encontrar? La respuesta era fácil, en mi fe. De este modo comencé por retomar muchas cosas de mi fe que poco a poco había olvidado, no por rechazo a esta, sino simplemente porque me había dejado llevar por los afanes de la vida. Sin darme cuenta era la semilla entre los espinos, me había convertido en aquella porción de los hombres que acogen la palabra de Dios, pero los afanes de este mundo habían ahogado la palabra de Dios en mi alma.

Empecé a recuperar el tiempo perdido: acudía con frecuencia al Catecismo, cuando se decía algo en contra de la Iglesia en los medios investigaba al respecto, preguntaba a quien conocía mejor que yo la fe católica, etc. Poco a poco me fui enamorando de mi fe y, en el proceso, también fui acercándome a los sacramentos. No lo podía saber en aquel momento, pero Dios estaba preparando el terreno para lo que vendría después.

Hacia el final de este camino de regreso al padre, a modo del hijo pródigo, recibí una invitación a una convivencia en el noviciado de los legionarios de Cristo en Monterrey, con el propósito de visitar a mi hermano que en esa época se encontraba ahí. La verdad, no estaba convencido de querer ir, pero dije que sí a la invitación como una forma rápida de salir de esa situación incómoda, a fin de cuentas, pensaba, en seis meses ya nadie se acordaría de que había sido invitado. Pero no fue así.

Llegó el mes de diciembre y con él, la convivencia. Habían pasado varios meses desde la invitación y sin embargo esta no había caído en el olvido. Ahí estaba yo, en una convivencia vocacional sin saber cómo había sido.

En la primera plática aprendí que era la vocación. La segunda plática fue la más decisiva, el tema era el llamado. Durante esta, me di cuenta que probablemente Dios me estaba llamando a seguirle más de cerca. Con el paso de los años he podido ver con maravilla cómo Dios me fue llevando de la mano esta época de mi vida.

Él me había estado preparando durante años para esos días de convivencia, con paciencia había preparado el terreno para que su llamado cayera en tierra fértil, poco a poco me había enseñado que él no quiere otra cosa que nuestra felicidad y que todo lo que nos presenta como su voluntad, no tiene otro fin.

Lo que pasó ese día de convivencia, en aquella plática fue que dos líneas se intersectaron; la primera me preparó a buscar y aceptar la voluntad de Dios en mi vida, la segunda me mostró cuál era lo que Dios quería para mí. Al final de la convivencia sabía que tenía que ir al candidatado en el verano, para profundizar en lo que Dios parecía que me estaba pidiendo. Mientras llegaba ese momento, la vida en la Sección me ayudó a mantenerme en la decisión surgida durante la convivencia.

El candidatado en el noviciado de Monterrey fue un momento importante que me ayudó a confirmar, con ayuda del director espiritual, el llamado que Dios me estaba haciendo. Sin embargo, el candidatado no era el final del camino, más bien era el comienzo de un camino de maduración en mi vocación, en la que cada etapa cursada ha aportado lo suyo.

Cursé el noviciado y las humanidades clásicas en Salamanca España. Un tiempo de muchas gracias pero también dificultades. Fue un periodo en el que conocí en profundidad el amor de Cristo y a la Legión.

Al finalizar los estudios humanísticos comenzó el periodo de filosofía. Tuve la gracia de estar esos años en la Dirección General, viviendo de cerca la primera etapa del proceso de renovación de la Legión. Digo que fue una gracia porque el vivirlo de manera tan cercana me dio seguridad que a pesar de la tormenta que rodeaba a la Legión, la barca llegaría a buen puerto.

Las prácticas apostólicas que siguieron a la filosofía, fueron un respiro del ritmo intenso que supone conjugar estudio y apostolado a la vez. Si algo tengo que agradecer a Dios de este periodo es la comunidad que me acogió ese par de años y la oportunidad de transmitir el amor de Dios que yo había recibido.

El regreso a la teología significó el comienzo de una preparación más próxima al sacerdocio. Este ya no era una realidad tan lejana, los ministerios, los ejercicios de mes y la profesión perpetua eran como los escalones que subían al presbiterio. Los años de teología fueron de maduración en mi vocación sacerdotal y religiosa, de crecimiento en la vida espiritual y de un mayor amor a Dios. Son años que miro con profunda gratitud por los dones recibidos.

Recibí el don de la ordenación diaconal el 14 de mayo de 2016, en el Centro de estudios superiores de los legionarios de Cristo en la ciudad de Roma.

Actualmente realizo mi labor apostólica en varias ciudades de la zona fronteriza entre México y Estados Unidos, en el ECYD y en las secciones del movimiento Regnum Christi. La misión encomendada nos sobrepasa, pero las palabras de Jesús nos reconfortan: «la mies es mucha, pero los obreros pocos; rogad, por tanto, al Señor de la mies que envíe obreros a su mies». Somos simples instrumentos de Dios trabajando en su mies, él es quien la riega y le da la luz necesaria para que dé fruto. Espero que estas líneas te ayuden y te pido una oración para ser siempre fiel instrumento de la voluntad de Dios en mi ministerio sacerdotal.

Carlos ZanattaEl P. Carlos Zanatta es originario del estado de Veracruz en México. Estudió Ingeniería Mecánica, profesión que desempeñó por un tiempo hasta su entrada a la Legión de Cristo en el año 2006. Cursó el noviciado en Salamanca España, al igual que las humanidades clásicas. Posteriormente cursó el bachillerato de filosofía en Roma como miembro de la Dirección General, entre los años 2009 y 2011. Realizó mis prácticas apostólicas en Torreón y Durango como instructor de formación y posteriormente como reclutador vocacional. En el 2013 regresó a Roma para proseguir sus estudios de teología, nuevamente como miembro de la Dirección General. Actualmente el P. Carlos realizo su ministerio en ambas partes de la zona fronteriza entre México y Estados Unidos, con grupos de adolescentes y jóvenes.

Brett Taira, L.C.

Real Presence

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Jn 6:51

Part I

Doorbell rings. I guess I should answer.

“Good afternoon, can we speak to your parents?”, asked the one of the two young men in matching white dress shirts, with black slacks and ties.

“They’re not home.”

“Can we ask you a question?”

Why not? I already got up to answer the door. “OK.”

“Do you know what a prophet is?”

“Yeah, a profit is when you make more money than you spent.”

“…”

Doorbell Dialogs with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Brett Taira, Age 12

I was raised in a Buddhist family living in sunny Southern California. I did not know Christ, but then again I didn’t know Buddha and neither omission seemed to have constituted a loss at the time. I dedicated myself to school, to my friends, and to hobbies. My greatest occupation was passing from the present to the future, and my existential anxiety festered as it became progressively more difficult to perceive any qualitative difference between the former and the later. It had been my hope that upon entering college there would be something “new under the sun”, but novelties are, as ever, circumstantial. The world of the adolescent seemed a highway of limitless possibilities, but the adult ever threatened to substitute ideals for expedients.

Though I had my eyes on Berkeley, I surprised myself by going out-of-state to Rice University in. At college, nobody should be surprised to find a multitude of student groups looking for new members. There’s nothing novel about drawing attention with music and free pizza. I was prepared for smiles, the friendly greetings, and then ultimately the sales pitch. There was the Chinese Club (not to be confused with the Taiwanese), the Linux Club, chain mail-clad Elvish-speaking Tolkein-worshiping Club, and any other student club one could imagine. Of this menagerie the most active of the groups were the religious organizations and in particular the evangelical Christians. As a matter of principle I decided that I wasn’t going to fall for organizations that held you hostage all Sunday morning, yet in spite of my better judgment, I fell for their pitch. I was hungry. There was pizza. I told myself I was just going for the pizza. Just for the pizza…

Three months, a dozen bible studies, half a dozen Sunday worship services, a handful of praise and worship sessions, and innumerable pizzas later I found myself thoroughly immersed in an exemplary group of young Christians from all over the world, specializing in diverse fields of study, and yet united by something intangible, imperceptible, and yet undeniably attractive. Having partaken fully of the practically unlimited supply of Papa John’s Pizza and Crispy Creme donuts, I began to suspect that the marvelous unity and enthusiasm of the group had a more profound origin than just the limitless supply of food. Anyone with a basic level of personal discipline can be friendly, sociable, and patient at the beginning of the year to welcome new freshman, but to do so consistently amidst the stresses of college life for three months straight deserves some attention. Although I was present at the same activities, my friends clearly had something special that I was missing. Participation occurs not through activity, but through belief; and I was more of an observer than a believer.

On December 13, 2000, my friend John asked me if I wanted to become a Christian, and I took the question seriously, however quickly encountering serious doubts. Can I really trust God? How can I trust Him if I don’t know Him? How can I start to know Him if I don’t take the step of faith? Why do I need to take the first step? Why can’t He just show Himself to me? I was waiting for God to make the first move, but that move had already been made.

The impasse was broken by the intervention of an ever present though never welcome party. As my conversation with John continued, so did my agitation and my doubts of God, of his goodness of his trustworthiness. The prospect of faith first seemed an intriguing, but uncertain opportunity. Then suddenly it seemed to me an imprudent and foolish adventure. Finally, the prospect of Christianity loomed over me as a menace and a threat. My thoughts and attitudes toward God had in the course of only a few minutes degenerated radically from fascination to fight-or-flight. That’s when I realized that something nasty was pulling my strings and yanking hard. In this world there are good spirits and bad ones. I had the unpleasantness of making acquaintance with the latter. I was under siege by an unknown enemy who sought above all to prevent me from trusting in a God who for the most part was also largely unknown to me. The question of faith was no longer an academic game of words and ideas. If I chose not to act, it was clear that I would be handing the victory to the nasty spirit. Not deciding is itself a decision of the gravest consequences. The time for gathering information was over. All I really knew about God was that my friends believed in him, and I knew for sure that I trusted my friends. This knowledge wasn’t a scientific proof, it wasn’t philosophical demonstration, and nothing could be more subjective than my personal experience with my friends. The testimony of convinced Christians was all the data I had to work with, and this was the data that gave me the confidence to take the leap of faith.

Part II

“How do pick a church?”
“Easy. Here’s what look for:

Bible-based, fellowship, evangelization, and good music.”

–Dialogs on the Four Marks of a church, 2001

In the summer of 2001, I was on vacation in New York City. Our hotel was just a few blocks from St. Patrick’s Cathedral so out of curiosity I went to the early Mass to leave time for sightseeing the rest of the day. As I entered the massive Neo-Gothic structure I was taken aback by the silence. The stark contrast between the bustling activity of Manhattan commuters and the sepulchral stillness of church gave first gave me pause, and then later alarm. Mass was about to start and the church was still mostly empty. There were no greeters at the entrance. A desperate glance also confirmed my suspicions that there was no choir, no organist, and no praise and worship band. Not wanting to feel out place I imitated the locals by sitting alone in an empty pew roughly equidistant from the handful faithful attending Mass.

After twenty-four tedious minutes passed, Mass ended as underwhelmingly as it had begun. Having been utterly unimpressed by the whole experience I swiftly descending the front steps facing Rockefeller Center, now directing my full attention toward breakfast. Before I even reached the foot of the stairs, I was overcome by the consoling peace of the Holy Spirit. This made no sense at all to me. Despite a thoroughly disappointing liturgical experience, God was responding with grace and consolation. There was something that had gone very, very right and I had no clue what it was.

A week later my travels took me visit Washington D.C. where I arranged to visit my friends from college at their Presbyterian service. As soon as I entered, I was welcomed by three greeters at the front door who promptly led me to the youth room which was buzzing with joyful chatter. I was relieved when I spotted the praise and worship band tuning their guitars and getting ready to play. My friends introduced me to an enthusiastic youth minister in his mid-twenties who preached with passion and conviction. After the service I said goodbye to my friends and felt extremely content with having been able to visit such a vibrant community of young Christians. Yet in the depth of my heart, I knew something was off.  Something was missing something, but I couldn’t identify what it was. Yet how could I find that something, when I didn’t know what I was looking for?

The much needed insight came after returning to California, when my mom took me aside and told me that she had something she wanted to give me. She opened up her jewelry box and withdrew a gold crucifix. I assumed that she must have purchased it during our vacation, but she told me that she had received it as a gift from my grandmother who purchased it on sale because it came with another item that she wanted. My grandmother gave the crucifix to my mother so that she could melt down the gold and make something new. My mom never had time to reforge it, so the crucifix was never melted, and spent years waiting at the bottom of her jewelry box. Every Catholic church I had visited display a crucifix prominently within the sanctuary. All of the Protestant churches I visited were adorned with a bare cross without the corpus, or body of Christ. Not being totally obtuse, I could see that the Holy Spirit was pointing me toward the Catholic Church, so I got in touch with some Catholic friends and related my experience to them. When they told me that the Eucharist was truly the Body and Blood of Christ, then I finally understood what God was trying to tell me. I understood, I believed, and I knew I needed the Eucharist. I needed to join the Catholic Church.

Part III

“If anyone is seriously thinking about the priesthood or consecrated life,

please come down to the center so we can pray for you.”

He said “seriously” thinking about it. I’m just thinking about it casually.

“If you feel that God is calling you, don’t be afraid.”

I’m not afraid. It’s just that I’m not seriously thinking about it.

“It’s OK. Come down here so we can pray for you.”

Good. I’m happy to pray for those other people who are serious about it.

Why am I the only one worried about this? Maybe I am serious…

–Interior Monologues, Steubenville West 2002.

After several months of RCIA classes I received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion on the Easter Vigil of 2002, marking my official reception into the Catholic Church. After the exuberance of those days subsided I realized that I missed those RCIA classes, not so much for the content as for having a clear goal towards which I was striving and a structured itinerary for arriving there. Now that I was a fully incorporated member of the Church, the only sure goal left was heaven, and plan for getting there was not quite as well scheduled as RCIA classes had been. Lacking a specific goal but eager to continue advancing in my faith, I volunteered with youth ministry at St. Joachim’s parish in Costa Mesa, CA during the summer after my sophomore year of college.

I accompanied our teens to the Steubenville West Conference in Arizona. During Eucharistic adoration I received a clear call to the priesthood. For me the call was not the certainty that I would in fact become a priest, but rather it was the perception that Christ was opening a new doorway in my life – an initiative not an ultimatum. There was nothing wrong with the path I had been, and I experienced no pressure to abandon my original plans. Yet Christ’s invitation to the priesthood was intriguing, radically different from anything I had imagined, and it resonated within my soul long after emotions had passed. The vocation is inherently attractive and does not require promotion so much as presentation.

Although I had encountered priests from religious orders, I really didn’t know much of the difference between religious and diocesan priests. Encouraged by a friend, I made a visit to the St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado Canyon to meet the Norbertines. When I joined their community to pray the Sixth Hour, I received an inspiration from the Holy Spirit and I realized that God was calling me to religious life. From that point forward my journey of discernment led me to visit various other religious congregations. The Legionaries of Christ, being a relatively new and small order with only a small presence in Southern California, were nowhere on my radar screen.

During my discernment process I was also interested in becoming more active in evangelization. I was involved in the pro-life movement in Houston, and often spent my weekends praying outside of Planned Parenthood clinics. The idea of giving public testimony to the faith strongly resonated with me and I felt that Christians should not be afraid to take to the streets to communicate the truth to others. I was Googling for Catholics who did street missions and I came across Mission Youth, an organization sponsored by the Regnum Christi Movement which is dedicated to missions both in the US and abroad. At the time they didn’t offer missions in Houston, but I found out that there were Regnum Christi retreats locally so I attended, eager to meet a group dedicated to the new evangelization. I was immediately impressed by the Legionary priest who preached the retreat, and I quickly became involved with Regnum Christi’s youth work. I joined Regnum Christi in the summer of 2003, and after visiting the novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, CT I began making plans to join the candidacy after finishing my degree in electrical engineering.

Part IV

“The sincere zeal of the majority of Legionaries, which was evident in the visits to the Congregation’s houses and to many of their works – which met with great appreciation in some quarters – led many people in the past to believe that the increasingly insistent and widespread accusations could not be other than calumnies. Therefore the discovery and the knowledge of the truth concerning the founder gave rise among the members of the Legion to surprise, dismay and profound grief, which was clearly brought out by the Visitators.”

–Communique of the Holy See Regarding the Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries, May 1st, 2010.

I received my cassock and officially joined the novitiate September 15th, 2004. Life in the seminary was tough, but I enjoyed the time of prayer, study, and service. I was enjoying my studies in Rome when news of the scandal of Fr. Maciel, the founder of our order, came to light in February 2009. As story of the figure who had been the point of reference for all things Legionary took a tragic turn, I couldn’t help but wonder about my future. There was speculation that the congregation would be suppressed by the Vatican. As other priests and seminarians began to leave the Legion, I wondered whether it was time to abandon. Fortunately, Pope Benedict quickly ordered an apostolic visitation and later appointed Card. Velasio DePaolis to oversee the revision of our constitutions. The Pope clearly wanted us to continue not to shut down.

It is not a coincidence that this crisis occurred during the pontificate which emphasized a “hermeneutic of continuity.” The prevailing culture and its “hermeneutic of rupture” wanted to resolve our situation by completely liquidating us, and then starting a new congregation from scratch. Pope Benedict’s approach however reflects truth that the same Spirit which inspired us during our foundation, continues to inspire us even after our crisis. God remains faithful even we had failed. The challenge of these years of renewal was not a question of separating the past and future into two hermetically isolated incommensurables, but rather to be attentive to the good the Holy Spirit has been working in us from the beginning and to remove obstacles that have cropped up along the way so that He can continue his work in generations to come. In the end I came to see this whole renewal process as part of my vocation to the Legion. The crisis has not changed my vocation, but rather my way of responding to the call. The mission to build the Kingdom of Christ has not changed, but rather the awareness of the need to build in communion. The challenges going forward are not inconsequential, but today I feel more accompanied by my Regnum Christi family than ever.

taira-brett-2016Brett Taira, L.C. was born in Santa Barbara, CA. Raised Buddhist he converted to the Catholicism in 2002. In 2004 he received a B.A. in Electrical Engineering from Rice University in Houston. Immediately after graduation he joined the Legionaries of Christ. He completed two years of Novitiate and one year of Humanities in Cheshire, CT. In Rome he studied philosophy for four years, receiving a B.A. and Licentiate in Philosophy from Regina Apostolorum. While in Rome he served as guide for pilgrims, specializing in tours of the Vatican. He did his apostolic internship in Chicago from 2011-2013, working with Conquest clubs, and serving as formation instructor in Everest Academy in Lemont and East Lake Academy in Lake Forest. He returned a second time to Rome for three years to complete a B.A. in Theology at Regina Apostolorum. During the second period in Rome he continued his role as guide for pilgrims in addition to contributing to website development and photography projects. He returned again to Chicago in July 2016 to begin work as Assistant Chaplain to the Regnum Christi Sections of Chicago.

Andrew Gronotte, L.C.

Learning to Hold on to Jesus.

What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us (1John 1:3)

My name is Andrew Gronotte. I am the oldest of three. My brother, Christopher, was born a little over a year after me, then came along my sister, Elizabeth, about two years after him. Christopher, is also a seminarian with the Legionaries. Elizabeth currently teaches children with special needs. I was born and raised in Kentucky, where my parents and sister still live today.

I grew up in a practicing catholic family. My mom was the guardian of the faith when we were young, where she would make sure we would go to mass and say the rosary as a family. When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my mom was diagnosed with cancer for the first time (she was diagnosed again another 20 years later). I have a vague memory of my dad sitting with my brother and me saying we needed to pray for mom. In some way my mom’s cross those years marked the faith in our family.

As a kid, I loved playing sports. I played both basketball and baseball. Our baseball team was pretty good, we went two years undefeated. With my friends, we would play football and basketball in the backyard, dreaming of being stars in the NFL or NBA.

All seemed to be going well at my parish school until the 5th grade. That year, my parents decided to have me sit out of a sex ed class, and started looking into having us change schools. A friend of my mom’s, Melanie Wieck (RIP), asked her to help start a school with relation to Regnum Christi. Mom and Dad decided to have us start going to this new school called Royalmont Academy. We started in the basement of a Baptist Church in Cincinnati, OH. Here my vocation began to form. Before going here, I may have thought of being a priest a few times, but nothing concrete. I don’t know where it really started, but somehow God placed a little seed that has kept growing in me.

At school, I was introduced to Fr Matthew Van Smoorenburg and Br Louis Judd. They would come once and a while to visit the school. I esteemed them then, and continue to do today. They would hang out and talk with us. They invited me to go on a summer camp after the first year at school. The year following, I would go on monthly weekend retreats at what was known to us as the “Weisbrod’s house”. They were great! We would play, pray, and eat well. Later I found out, that I had to miss baseball practices and games because of this, but since mom took care of my “busy” schedule, I had no clue. I just went on with life.

Easter 1998, I was invited to visit a minor seminary in New Hampshire, ICAS (Immaculate Conception Apostolic School). I had no clue I would end up going there, but when I was invited by Fr Matthew, I told him I would love to.  Then I had to tell mom. By God’s grace, my parents let me go.

I ended up joining that following summer. Above all, it was the spirit that reigned that attracted me to go there. I felt at home, and wanted to be part of that. Looking back, I can only see it one way, God must have been so happy to see all the kids there eager to love Him and letting Him nourish that seed that He placed in us. It was hard for me to leave my parents. I know it was hard for them too, because they were more aware of what all this meant. But through it all, I only received support and help from them to follow God’s path. After a month or two, my dad came up for a weekend, he must have had business there. I remember as he left, I felt alone. I sat in the parking lot next to the gym and cried for a while. I didn’t know where to turn. Later I learned, I could only turn to Jesus.

It may seem that they were bad parents for having let me go, and a year later letting my younger brother go there too. The grace of God was the only thing that allowed them to do this. It doesn’t make sense, but God gives the support necessary. I am sure that as a family we have grown a lot, and are probably closer than if we would have stayed at home. Sacrifice always helps us to grow. Looking back I see how my parents made the sacrifice to send us there, trying to find ways to pay the tuition, not having us at home, and then traveling the 700 miles to come visit when they could. It is all worth it, because God gives back 100 fold. I think they can attest to that too.

After those four years in New Hampshire, I decided to join the novitiate. I received my cassock on September 14, 2002. I promised poverty, chastity and obedience, and to try to live according to the rules of the Legion. The next day I received my first assignment putting to test the promises I made the night before, I was asked to go to Monterrey, Mexico. Between learning Spanish, a new culture, and learning to be a religious; I was oblivious to what was happening for the first 6 months. Here in the many hours of prayer that we had during the day, I learned to hold onto Christ and to deepen in my friendship with Him.

After the two years there, I was sent to Cheshire, CT to study liberal arts, our humanities program. I was there for two years. In addition to going to classes, I was able to deepen in my awareness of my consecration with God. The habits I formed in the novitiate were put to the test in a different environment.

Then came my first period in Rome. I was sent to the Center of Higher Studies. It was hard for me to adapt during the first few months. I felt a little lost among the 400 other seminarians that were there. Once I got used to it, I was asked to change communities. One unexpected day, our general superior, Fr Alvaro, invited me to lunch with two or three other brothers. The next day, I was told I would go to the General Directorate.  I was nervous, but also excited for the new adventure.

At the end of my first year in Rome, God gave me a challenge that took about 8 years to figure out. I received a note from my superior that said, more or less what I understood to mean, that God didn’t want me to be a legionary but rather to be His, in other words this wasn’t the right path for me. It was hard for me to understand what he actually meant by this, because I thought I was doing fine. The next day, I went to my superior to ask him what he meant by this, and he explained that I was doing fine on this path and that the vocation is only a means for me to be united to God. The only problem was, that I kept the thought in my mind for a long time, and it wasn’t until after my pastoral years I was finally able to understand what this meant. It ended up being one of the greatest gifts.

After my undergrad in Philosophy, I was off to Washington DC to work with youth clubs – ECYD. Those years were tough, to say the least. All the structural elements that I had around me that gave me confidence, fell. Our founder was found to have started a private family and abused minors, my superior left the congregation, companions and friends left the religious life and Regnum Christi movement, some of the people I was working with looked on us with suspicion, and we were asked to look with a critical eye at our constitutions, and to re-write them. Amidst all this I was ask to keep the clubs afloat when some of their parents no longer trusted us. It was hard, but looking back at those years I knew God was in charge.

Coming back to Rome after the 3 years of pastoral experience, I was forced to re-encounter the difficulty that I left a few years back. I was blessed to have the same superior from the time I left Rome. I didn’t understand why that worry was still there.  At times, I felt like God was asking me to give up my vocation. I felt like I had given Him everything and the only thing that I was still holding on to was my vocation. How could He ask me for that? This was what was most precious to me. It was a childhood dream. It gave me an identity.  I couldn’t let go. In this turmoil, God gave me a boost in His Sacred Heart.

June 6th, 2013, it was the middle of exams finishing my license in Philosophy. After an exam in the morning about the metaphysical foundation of a realistic ethic, I went out with some Regnum Christi members from the States to show them a few churches in Rome. We were in the middle of the novena to the Sacred Heart. Every church we went in, I saw an image of the Sacred Heart. It was then that Christ gave me His vocation. It was no longer mine, but a participation in His priesthood. I had to give up my idea of what it meant to be a priest, and had to open my heart to receive what God really wanted from me. Everything for me was solved in the image of the Sacred Heart. He gave me His Heart and in that Heart, He gave me the priesthood, the Legion, the mission, and most important of all, Himself. For me to be a priest is exactly this, God choosing to be united to me in His priesthood. He can choose to give himself in many different ways, but for me it is in the legionary priesthood. God wants my heart and it is serving Him in the Legion, which is the best means for me to be able to give it to Him.

12046803_828415713941745_3401511286820081926_nMy name is Andrew Gronotte. I am the oldest of three. My brother, Christopher, was born a little over a year after me, then came along my sister, Elizabeth, about two years after him. Christopher, is also a seminarian with the Legionaries. Elizabeth currently teaches children with special needs. I was born and raised in Kentucky, where my parents and sister still live today.

Alfredo G. Hernández, L.C.

Lo esencial es invisible a los ojos.

Los grandes y pequeños misterios, los grandes y pequeños momentos de Gracia – siempre unidos a los momentos de debilidad –, los pequeños arranques de generosidad… han sido y son en buena parte invisibles. Son, sin embargo, los que me definen hoy. No soy sino un tejido de misericordias, de pequeñas y grandes misericordias y bondades del Señor, que se han ido entrelazando en lo que va de mi vida.

Cuantas veces he intentado descubrir en mi vida el momento concreto de la llamada de Dios o un momento concreto donde haya respondido de manera clara y definitiva, tantas veces me he tenido que rendir. No me ha sido posible, y no me es posible ahora, identificar el día y la hora en la que el Señor me dijo «Sígueme». Y es que siento esta llamada como algo eterno… que me encontré ya ahí, desde mi primera infancia; una llamada que ha ido madurando hasta hacerse certeza y una respuesta que, en sus altibajos, ha sido constante. Así como un platillo que se concina a fuego lento, o como el cabello que crece imperceptible pero constantemente, o como las olas del mar que sin grandes sobresaltos van erosionando la roca, así contemplo la historia de mi vocación.

«Lo esencial es invisible a los ojos». Los grandes y pequeños misterios, los grandes y pequeños momentos de Gracia – siempre unidos a los momentos de debilidad –, los pequeños arranques de generosidad… han sido y son en buena parte invisibles. Son, sin embargo, los que me definen hoy. No soy sino un tejido de misericordias, de pequeñas y grandes misericordias y bondades del Señor, que se han ido entrelazando en lo que va de mi vida.

«Me sedujiste, Señor, y me dejé seducir» (Jer…..). Antes de narrar algunos hechos autobiográficos, quiero afirmar con fuerza, como dice el Profeta Jeremías, que ha sido Dios el que ha tenido la iniciativa en todo este camino. Él – así lo creo firmemente – sembró en mi corazón desde niño el deseo de servirle; Él me ha acompañado en las planicies, en las honduras y en las alturas; Él me ha sostenido cuando flaqueaban las fuerzas; Él ha ido, poco a poco, conquistando mi corazón y transformándolo cada vez más en imagen del Corazón de su Hijo Jesucristo. Todo es obra suya y a mí me queda sólo el mérito – que por lo demás es también don suyo – de dejarme seducir.

Nací en la ciudad de Toluca, Edo. de México, en 1985. De mi primera infancia guardo el recuerdo de una familia feliz. Un lugar especial en mi memoria lo ocupa la Parroquia de San Carlos Borromeo y la Capillita de los Dolores: en estas Iglesias aprendí, en buena parte de mano de mi abuelita, a amar a Jesús y a María y tuve mis primeras clases de catecismo. Hice mi Primera Comunión con sólo seis años. Mientras los demás niños querían ser bomberos o astronautas, yo quería ser Papa… tal cual.; incluso le escribí una cartita a San Juan Pablo II pidiéndole un consejo para serlo. Más allá de lo anecdótico, el deseo de ser Sacerdote me lo encontré ya ahí, en mi corazón, desde que me acuerdo. La vivencia en casa de una fe sencilla, con devociones bonitas – recuerdo especialmente los rosarios y el ofrecimiento de flores los meses de mayo, o la velita y oración a la Divina Providencia los primeros días de cada mes – fueron haciendo que, para mí, fuera perfectamente natural vivir en clave de Dios. No puedo no mencionar la participación de mis papás en el patronato pro-construcción de la hoy Parroquia de la Santísima Trinidad, muy cerca de nuestra casa; «edificar la Iglesia» es una metáfora bíblica cuyo sentido profundo comprendí vivencialmente desde chico, instalado el equipo de sonido, tocando la campana, sirviendo como monaguillo.

El fin de mi niñez lo marcó la decisión de mi papá de continuar su vida alejado de nuestra familia. No puedo, al respecto, no hacer mención y agradecer con toda mi alma a mi mamá, a mis abuelos paternos y a toda la familia – en especial a mis tíos y tías – que me ayudaron a asimilar sin mayores traumas la pérdida y que me enseñaron a perdonar y a nunca guardar ni rencores ni odios. Nunca le he oído a mi mamá una palabra negativa sobre mi papá, a pesar de que ella fue la que tuvo que pagar, en buena parte, los platos rotos. Los cambios en la vida y hábitos que implicó esta situación no fueron pocos, pero también detrás de estos acontecimientos estaba el Señor que me iba preparando y enseñando tantas cosas… Tenía 10 años.

Quizá a raíz de esto se acentuó mucho mi concepción de la familia en sentido amplio: sin duda los tres – mi mamá, mi hermano Juan Pablo y yo – éramos el núcleo y son para mí mi todo, pero mis lazos de afecto y cercanía para con el resto de la familia se fortalecieron mucho: mis tíos han sido y son importantísimos para mí y mis primos – cada uno de ellos – es para mí un hermano.

Los dos últimos años de primaria estudié en el Instituto México de Toluca, de los Hermanos Maristas, y en estos años entré en contacto también con el Regnum Christi. De mano de mi tía Ele conocí y me fui integrando cada vez más con el ECYD de Toluca que en esos años estaba naciendo. Sería muy largo contar las experiencias de esos años en el ECYD – en especial gracias al apostolado y los sacramentos – que me fueron preparando cada vez más a dar un paso decisivo: salir de casa.

El día en que conocí el Centro Vocacional me dije: «de aquí soy»: encontré en el Ajusco el lugar que buscaba para seguir cuanto antes el deseo profundo de mi corazón de ser Sacerdote. No fue fácil obtener el permiso de mi mamá en un primer momento, como es perfectamente comprensible; sin embargo el Señor se fue encargando de ir allanando el camino y pude ingresar al Centro Vocacional en agosto de 1998.

Mi vida en el Centro Vocacional, como la de cualquier buen adolescente estuvo llena de altibajos. Sin embargo las experiencias de esos años y el conocimiento cada vez mayor de la legión y de la vocación sacerdotal suplen con creces las dificultades que pudo haber habido. ¡Cuántos amigos de esos años! ¡Cuántos sacerdotes y formadores que con paciencia fueron ayudando a sacar lo mejor de mí mismo! Tuve la oportunidad de transcurrir un año en el Centro Vocacional de Gozzano, en Italia: una de las experiencias más enriquecedoras – en todos los sentidos – que he tenido.

Tras cuatro años en el Centro Vocacional tomé la decisión de ingresar al Noviciado de la Legión de Cristo. En realidad el ingreso al Noviciado no implicó para mí un gran discernimiento: fue el paso natural de un camino de seguimiento del Señor sin grandes sobresaltos. Estos dos años en Santa María de la Montaña fueron, sin embargo, complicados espiritualmente, lo que me obligó a realizar un discernimiento serio no ya de la autenticidad de la llamada de Dios – de la que nunca he tenido duda – sino de mi voluntad y de mi capacidad para seguirla. Estos años fui aprendiendo que elegir es renunciar y que renunciar a personas, a experiencias y a cosas no es nada fácil. Gratificante sí, pero no fácil. Agradezco a mi Instructor, P. Jorge Fernández, y a mis Asistentes, su ayuda en este período al final del cual pude dar con mayor conciencia el paso siguiente: la Profesión Religiosa.

De mi período de estudios, tanto en Salamanca, como las dos estancias en Roma, podría escribir varias páginas con experiencias y anécdotas de todo tipo, pero no me parece éste el lugar adecuado. El período de estudios sirve para eso: para estudiar, para prepararse y para ir madurando la propia vocación y el deseo de entrega. De todos los aspectos que podría comentar únicamente quiero hacer mención de uno: en estos años he tenido – y conservo – numerosas amistades que son, en verdad, un gran tesoro. Con muchos de estos hermanos y amigos he caminado muchos años juntos. No puedo sino agradecer mucho a Dios N. S. por cada uno de ellos: algunos son sacerdotes, con otros me ordenaré este diciembre, algunos estudian sus últimos años de teología y otros más han optado por otros estados de vida. Por cada uno doy gracias a Dios.

Un pequeño párrafo sobre mis prácticas apostólicas: a pesar de los años turbulentos en que me tocó hacer las prácticas (2008 – 2011) puedo afirmar que fueron una maravilla. La Comunidad en la que viví, en Aguascalientes, estaba formada por padres y hermanos de los que guardo muy buenos ejemplos; de uno de los padres de la comunidad, el P. Ignacio Buisán, me decía frecuentemente así quiero ser cuando sea sacerdote. Mi trabajo, en la Gira Vocacional fue otra maravilla: Dios me bendijo con excelentes compañeros (el P. Rodrigo, Federico y Adrián), con muchas familias a las que aprecio mucho, y con muchos frutos apostólicos. La gran enseñanza de estos años se podría decir que es la experiencia de la paternidad: me tocó ayudar y acompañar a muchachos y familias a descubrir el querer de Dios para ellos y el Señor hizo crecer mi corazón y querer de verdad a cada uno de mis muchachos.

Los últimos años de mi preparación para emitir mi Profesión Perpetua se vieron envueltos en los escándalos que sacudieron a la legión a partir de 2008. Gracias a Dios, al apoyo de mi comunidad estas situaciones no me afectaron mucho personalmente y continué con mi trabajo apostólico incluso con más ganas, consciente de la necesidad de sumar todo lo posible desde mi puesto de trabajo. Paradójicamente esta situación vino a afirmar mi vocación o, mejor dicho, mi voluntad de seguirla: pasaba por un momento de crisis cuando todo explotó y la contemplación de las necesidades que tenía la legión – que tanto había hecho por mí – terminó por archivar los debates internos en torno a mi ¿quiero o no quiero?

Hice mi Profesión Perpetua el 15 de septiembre de 2010, con la conciencia plenamente convencida de lo que hacía: me consagré por entero al servicio del Señor en la legión de Cristo de por vida. Quiero recalcar esto: profesé con mucha fe en Dios y con una confianza grande en la Iglesia y en la legión; pero con plena conciencia y convencimiento personal de lo que hacía… a pesar de que muchos se hayan empeñado en negar el valor o la autenticidad subjetivas de las profesiones hechas en ese período.

Mi regreso a Roma y los últimos años de estudios fueron de luchas intensas en muchos ámbitos. El tema vocacional lo tenía resuelto, gracias a Dios, pero otra serie de dificultades personales y comunitarias le dieron color e intensidad a estos años. Sólo puedo decir que Dios bendice y que bendice mucho. Dios nunca te deja y tiene la mano extendida para tomar la tuya cuando, como Pedro, medio hundido, le gritas: ¡sálvame Señor! De entre las bendiciones que Dios me regaló estos últimos años le agradezco especialmente la persona de mi Padre Espiritual. P. Benjamín: muchas gracias por todo y bien sabes, padre, todo lo que hay detrás de ese todo.

Muchas gracias también a mis compañeros, en especial a los de la Generación, a mi Superior y a mis Formadores de estos últimos años.

Recibir las Sagradas Órdenes es una Gracia inmensa. Es un Don, no un premio ni una ceremonia de graduación al final del ciclo de estudios. Ser ministro de Jesucristo in aeternum es, también, una responsabilidad superlativa. Soy consciente de mi debilidad y de mis muchas carencias; pero hace relativamente poco descubrí que no hay que ser perfectos: hay que trabajar cada día para ser mejor, hay que ser constante en el esfuerzo de cada día por ser cada vez más de Cristo y menos de mí mismo, por poner cada vez más a Cristo al centro de mi vida.

hernandez-alfredo

El P. Alfredo G. Hernández Herrera, LC nació en Toluca, Edo. de México, el 29 de julio de 1985. Procedente del ECYD, ingresó al Centro Vocacional del Ajusco, en la Ciudad de México, en el verano de 1998 y al Noviciado de Monterrey en septiembre de 2002. Realizó su Primera Profesión religiosa el 29 de agosto de 2004 y su Profesión Perpetua el 15 de septiembre de 2010. Estudió humanidades y ciencias en Salamanca, España, y filosofía y teología en el Ateneo Regina Apostolorum en la ciudad de Roma. Es licenciado en filosofía. Realizó sus prácticas apostólicas
entre los años 2008 y 2011 colaborando con la pastoral vocacional de la diócesis de Aguascalientes y como promotor vocacional de la legión de Cristo en Aguascalientes y Zacatecas. El P. Alfredo desempeña su ministerio en la ciudad de Guadalajara, Jal., colaborando en el Instituto Cumbres San Javier y en la sección de jóvenes del Regnum Christi en dicha ciudad.

Aaron Loch, L.C.

ECYD group by a waterfall, June 1998

"I have called you friends..." John 15:15

Rarely does closet-cleaning enter as decisively in a vocational decision to the priesthood as it did that day.

     Someone once told me, “Every good story begins with a bad decision.” Let me tell you a story. When I was about ten years old I got the idea to get ahead in life. This meant having a big family and making more money than my friends. I started working and saving. By the time I was fourteen I had kept a steady summer job for three years and knew the value of a dollar, but I wasn’t ahead of anybody. My opportunity came when I learned about a boarding school that offered the last three years of school in just two years. That was an easy decision, maybe too easy, like the fish before a juicy worm suspended before him. Like the fish, I did not give much thought to the Fisherman. This school would get me ahead and I took the bait. This was the bad decision. All of my friends got out of school over a decade before me and most of them have kids while I, of course, have none.

     This is my bad-decision-good-story, but the fourteen year old boy was not as simplistic as just presented. Early on I learned that this school, Immaculate Conception Apostolic School, New Hampshire, was a minor seminary. More importantly I also found that I was happy there. I was surrounded by joyful young men, and fulfilled priests and seminarians. For the first time in my life I felt like the priesthood might be something I could enjoy doing. I also began praying and this allowed me to see a bigger picture. Little by little making money and having a big family, my dreams, were overshadowed by something infinitely more worthy and precious, to be with Christ, and let him work through me, in an incredibly privileged way.

     What follows is the story of my best decision. To set the stage I would like to begin January 2009, at Oaklawn Academy, Wisconsin. I was just one year away from making my perpetual vows. On this particular winter day someone canceled something and I found myself with a couple free hours in my schedule. I pulled out my to do list and found a task I had neglected up to that point in the year: clean the sports equipment closet. It was a task that everyone had apparently overlooked for several years judging by the amount of dust. Rarely does closet-cleaning enter as decisively in a vocational decision to the priesthood as it did that day.

     After a couple hours of turning the room inside out, and covered in dust, I reached the deepest corner of the closet (it was really a small room) and found something that had nothing to do with sports or exercise, three crates holding photo albums. Opening one up I was shocked to find a picture of my mother at a Mass. I wondered how this was possible. This was of course not a family album; I had not recognized anyone in the other pictures. This surprise grew a few pages later when I found a picture of my much-younger father canoeing down a river. Whoever took these pictures must have known my family many years ago. Then I flipped a few more pages and found a picture of myself. Actually, there were several of myself. And that is when I realized these must be the pictures taken on the camps and retreats my family began attending fifteen years ago and then somehow ended up forgotten and half buried in this closet. That I would be the one to find them was quite a coincidence. The picture of my mother was of her incorporation into the Regnum Christi Movement. The picture of my father was on a canoe trip in Northern Minnesota when he was helping out on one of the camps. The pictures of me captured the moment I kissed the crucifix to promise Christ that I wanted to be a better friend within ECYD. This seemingly random photo, capturing this apparently insignificant moment, when I was just twelve years old… This picture found on this apparently ordinary day exactly twelve years afterwards… This revealed to me my best decision. The rest of my life and eternity, confirmation, profession, ordination, will be nothing more than the renewal of this first, conscious, free gift of myself to Jesus Christ.

    The coincidences of time and place that make up this story do not conclude Christ’s call to the priesthood with scientific certainty and that is why it is so hard to explain what happened within me at that moment. It was at that moment, when I saw myself kissing that crucifix, I knew with moral certainty, a certainty that the circumstances could not explain, that that childish desire and decision so many years ago was no accident. I knew that that day so many days ago, I had stepped into something far greater than myself. The boy in the picture was a well-intentioned dreamer. The man that found the picture was on a path for which he felt tremendously unworthy and fully confident in God’s power and mercy.

     This is my quick story. The bad decision of the fish and the Fisherman that somehow merged with the good decision of the child and the Call. There are so many more moments, so many memories and little adventures, but in the end they all return to the moment I told Jesus Christ that I want to be his friend. Today I find myself not where I had to come, but where my Friend wanted me to go. I know that as long as I am at his side, I am on the right path, the path of the cross, because that is where my Friend will always be.

loch-aaronFr. Aaron Loch, L.C. was born in Buffalo, Minnesota and is the second of eleven children. He entered the minor seminary of the Legion of Christ in New Hampshire in 1999 when he was 14 years old. After graduation he was sent to Dublin, Ireland for his novitiate. In 2005 he studied Humanities for one year in Cheshire Connecticut and Philosophy for two years in Thornwood, New York. He then began three years of internship beginning in St. Louis, Missouri, continuing in Edgerton, Wisconsin, and finishing in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, always working at schools. In 2010 he made his perpetual profession. Over the next six years he earned a license in Philosophy and a bachelour degree in Theology in Rome at the Pontificio Ateneo Regina Apostolorum. Fr. Aaron began his priestly ministry as chaplain of Oaklawn Academy in Edgerton Wisconsin.