Allowing God to call others through your own vocation is a humbling and beautiful work for two vocations promoters, Edurne Fuente, a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, and Fr. José Melendez, LC. They share their testimonies of being “fishers of men.” (Mt. 4:19)
Edurne Fuente was born in Spain and joined the Regnum Christi Consecrated Women 25 years ago. She has dedicated many years to working with young people- to know them, to accompany them and to help them find the fullness of their vocation. She resides in Bogotá, Colombia where she directs the Regnum Christi young women.
What has been your greatest satisfaction in the field of promoting vocations?
My greatest satisfaction is to see how a girl is able to stand before God and ask him honestly: “what do you want from me,” and have the courage and honesty to respond truthfully in her life, regardless of the answer he gives.
Another satisfaction is when they pull back the façade, when they remove fears, prejudices, they detach themselves from whatever attachment, like a rope around their necks, does not allow them to breathe the pure aroma of Christ and discover the freedom of the children of God. They grow, they are very strong! As they grow, they acquire security in themselves and launch themselves without fear.
How does God call today?
I would not know how to respond well, I think it’s very personal. God speaks to each one in a different way. Do not forget the prophet Jeremiah, “You seduced me Lord, and I let myself be seduced.” [Jeremiah 20:7] I think there are signs, and clues that can tell us about a possible call. If a young woman is in college, and a classmate starts paying attention to her, asks for her phone number, searches her out, she starts to suspect he likes her… He might just want to borrow notes, but it seems like it may be more, and she’s attracted to him too… This is also true in vocational discernment when God pursues someone. You have to “discern” if those signs are a declaration of Love to be yours in totality and forever.
What is the biggest challenge of vocational promotion today?
Personally, the biggest challenge is the coherence of my own life and the testimony of my community as fraternal life. I know it is God who calls, but he uses his instruments. How many of us have come to him by the example, joy, and apostolic zeal of a Legionary, or a consecrated man or woman, and seeing them, we have been attracted or invited to lead the same life.
Fr. José Meléndez, LC, was born in Ávila, Spain. At ten years old, he entered the Legionaries of Christ’s Apostolic School in Ontaneda. He was ordained in 1984. For almost 30 years he has worked in vocational promotion in several countries. He is currently working in Medellín, Columbia.
What has been the greatest adventure you have had in the mission of promoting vocations?
I remember a trip I made to a village in Asturias, Spain [Northern coast of Spain]. I was looking for a young man who had told me he had an interest in a possible vocation. I arrived in the village and searched the houses all over – Google Maps and the Waze did not exist yet – it was impossible to find it. I was coming back. I still remember the section of the road, a straight line with trees on both sides. As I walked away, a thought began to unsettle me: “You have abandoned a search for someone who could become a priest. You are leaving behind a vocation that will surely be lost for not having searched more thoroughly. You should go back and look more. “
That voice was so strong that arriving at the end of the row of trees, I returned to the town to continue searching. At last, we reached a house far from the village. It was the home of the contact that I had come for, but he wasn’t home. He was working in a bar in the village, earning a little money during the summer. Working in a bar?!? I didn’t think that was a good occupation for a possible seminarian. Anyway, I had to finish the search and propose a visit to the seminary in Salamanca. Well, I did not know if I was going to propose it or I was just going to say hello and nothing more. The priest who had given me the contact had assured me that he was a good young man.
When I entered the bar, I saw him behind the counter, with his glasses and his smile. “Are you José Luis?” “Yes, father, how are you?” He invited us to a cafe, we talked, and he seemed like a good young man. I invited him. That summer he was in the candidacy. The novice instructor recommended that he not enter that year: he was a bit immature. He entered the following year and ended up becoming a priest. The hunch had come true. It’s good that I did not let a difficulty prevent an invitation to a young man who became a priest.
And your greatest satisfaction?
In Luke 22: 28-30, we read, “You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The life of the vocational promoter is full of disappointments. Many of the seeds we sow are lost in this great field of life, and few are those who persevere until they become priests. I have been working for almost thirty years promoting vocations. I have seen hundreds and hundreds of young people pass through the apostolic schools, I have known their stories, their struggles, their victories and their failures. It can be said that the satisfactions of a vocational promoter are drowned in the number of souls that could be priests and never were.
How does God call today?
As always, in the secret of the heart and in a thousand ways, all very picturesque. As in the case of Samuel, where God lets the child confuse his call with the voice of old Eli. It had to be the old man himself who said, “If he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for thy servant hears.’” [1 Samuel 3:9] Or like Moses, curiosity took him to investigate the burning bush where he heard the call: “Take off your sandals that the place you step on is sacred.” Or like David, who was taking care of sheep and his brothers told him he had to go home because a prophet wanted to see him.
I still remember the story of a fellow priest who told us that a Legionary came to his class, and after giving them a talk, left them a questionnaire asking them about their interest in a vocation. Our protagonist had not given the priest any interest because he had to do his math assignments instead. But his partner wanted to make a joke and wrote his name on the card and he said he was very interested in a vocation. The Legionary took him out of class and spoke with him. He proposed a trip to the apostolic school in Mexico City. When he heard about the trip to the capital city, he thought it was fantastic. That was his first contact with the Legion of Christ, of which he is now a good priest.
What is the biggest challenge regarding promoting vocations today?
The first challenge is to believe in the work you do. Fishing is a job that requires a lot of patience, skill and fatigue. Many times, you draw in the nets and they are empty. For those who are looking for immediate satisfaction in their work or to see the fruits soon, it is not the ideal job.